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Full text of "A DREAM OF TREASON"

AN die iDi^t, close'* about him, 

was there no one to believe 

in Martin's innocence? 

A DREAM 
OF TREASON 

by Maurice Edelman 

"May he dream treason and wake to find it 
true . . ." These lines from John Donne's The 
Curse describe the theme of Maurice Edelman's 
new and thrilling novel about a Foreign Office 
official on the fringe of middle-age who, 
entrusted with a critical task, finds that, in ful 
filling it, he has entered a twilight world where 
guilt and innocence are confounded and dream 
and reality mingled. 

The diplomatic setting of Edelman's novel is 
contemporary; its background is as familiar as 
the Parliamentary scene which he so vividly and 
convincingly described in Who Goes Home. 
But, as in his previous books, he brings to A 
Dream of Treason his rare capacity for inter 
preting the drama of modern life in unique 
and memorable situations. The terrible dilemma 
which Martin Lambert's duty imposes on him 
is one which may well become classic in modern 
literature, so close is it, symbolically at any rate, 
to the potential experience of us all. 

Interwoven with this story of public affairs 
is the deeply moving account of Lambert's per 
sonal dilemma when, in the love of an eighteen- 
year-old girl, he sees the prospect of a brief 
shelter and escape from a marriage that has 
been a burden and a career on the point of 
foundering. 

For the excitement of the story alone, Edel 
man's book will be widely read. But it is as a 
complex study of human relationships that A 
Dream of Treason will enlarge the already large 
number of Edelman's admirers, and confirm his 
reputation as a major novelist. 

Jacket design by Robert Hallo ck 

$3.50 



KANSAS CITY, MO PUBLIC LIBRARY 



D DDD1 0301710 3 



Edelman, Maurice, 1911- 
A dream of treason. [1954 



^ Maurice , 1911- _ 
A dream of treason [1 



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Public Library 

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A DREAM OF TREASON 



Other Books by Maurice Edelman: 

WHO GOES HOME 
A TRIAL OF LOVE 



A DREAM OF TREASON 



By MAURICE EDELMAN 



PHILADELPHIA AND NEW YORK 

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 

1955 



Copyright, 1954, by Maurice Edelman 
Printed in the United States of America 

1 v 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 55-6292 



To JOHN 



6 02 IS 02 



A DREAM OF TREASON 



May he dream treason, and believe that he 
Meant to perform it, and confess, and die, 
And no record tell why . . . 

The Curse JOHN DONNE 



I 



"AND YOUR WIFE?" 

"She's ill" 

"Yes," said the Foreign Secretary. "I'm sorry very sorry. 
I like Eleanore greatly." 

Across the wide, mahogany table, Lambert watched the 
hands of the Foreign Secretary signing the name, Andrew 
Brangwyn thick "A" and "B," the rest a wave in the 
folio of letters. When he had blotted the last page, Brang 
wyn pushed his papers away, walked to the high windows, 
and stared across The Horse Guards Parade to the rim 
of yellow lights that defined St. James's Park through the 
rising fog. 

"If it gets any worse/' he said, talking towards the dark 
ness, "I'll send for linkmen. It took me twenty minutes to 
get to the House last night. What's the time?" 

Martin Lambert took his watch from his pocket and said, 
"Half past seven, sir." 

"The official time," said Sir James Padley, the Permanent 
Under-Secretary, looking at the slow pendulum of the nine 
teenth century wall clock, "is twenty-seven minutes past 
seven." 

"Of the two," Brangwyn said, returning to his chair 
behind the table, "I prefer half past seven. Your interpreta 
tion, James, is too meticulous. That's the trouble with the 

9 



products of red-brick universities." 

"Birmingham, sir . . ." Padley began. 

"New, James, too new. You treat all knowledge as if it 
began with your own discovery of it. You've no sense of 
history. Many facts no understanding. No tradition. Your 
thought has no ancestry/' 

Sir James Padley smiled comfortably in his arm-chair. He 
was familiar with the Foreign Secretary's banter; he knew 
that he meant every word of it. 

"We new men, sir," he answered, "have to improvise as 
we go along. We're pragmatists we take things as they are, 
and make them what we want them to be. To paraphrase 
Vigny, we arrange for our ancestors to descend from our 
selves. . . ." 

"You see, Martin, what I have to endure," said Brangwyn, 
turning to Lambert. "Fifty years ago, the Head of the 
Department would have quoted me a Greek epigram. With 
the spread of popular education and a revised syllabus 
he now refers to a third-rate French poet who disliked 
military service. There's no doubt about it, Britain's been 
ruined by her Education Acts. ... Are you losing face in 
front of a subordinate, James?" 

"No, not a bit," said Padley. "At the Foreign Office we 
make a most careful study of our relative importance. And 
our conclusions are fixed." 

Lambert laughed uncertainly. Brangwyn hadn't yet asked 
him to take a seat. Nor did he know the reason why Padley 
had telephoned him to his flat that morning, abruptly and 
privately, asking him to call on the Minister at a quarter 
past seven. 

He had arrived to find the secretary's room already empty. 
Entering with caution, he had tapped at the inner door, and 
Sir James Padley himself had opened it. 



10 



"Good-evening, Martin/' Brangwyn said. "How are 
you?" and went on writing while Padley read a typescript, 
and Lambert himself, studying the ponderous painting of 
George III behind the Foreign Secretary's head, waited, un 
easy and ignorant of the reason for the summons. 

"I have no sympathy with what passes nowadays for 
culture," Brangwyn continued. 'In fact, I can't understand, 
James, why you spend so much time at Festivals." 

He leaned back in order to get more air. A thin haze had 
filtered in from outside during the day, and lay gauzily 
between him and Padley. The Foreign Secretary coughed a 
little; although he had rowed for Cambridge, his years in the 
City had fattened his chest and made him bronchitic. 

"I never go to Festivals," he said. "Beastly things! Too 
mournful! Everyone you see there is the victim of a self- 
inflicted enthusiasm. They all go determined to be exalted, 
even if it kills them. Drama, concerts, ballet do sit down, 
Martin pictures; three days of it and they're already 
suffering from Festival-fatigue. Oh, the sad pleasures! On 
they go, evening after evening, acres of nodding grey 
heads . . ." 

"I hope to go to Aix next year," Sir James Padley said, 
undisturbed. 

". . . brooding on the next day's gaiety," Brangwyn went 
on. "If only I had the courage to defy you, James, I'd ask the 
Chancellor to cut every one of the Festival grants. . . . 
Where were you this year, Martin?" 

"At Cavalaire a little place in the south of France . . ." 

"I know, I know. Infested with campers . . ." 

"I think, sir, that's Cavaliere. . . ." 

"Cavalaire," said Brangwyn, "represents for me, in a 
sense, the decline of the French. They camp in rows with 
running water and laundries laid on. And squat, black- 

11 



haired men with bulging calves and sandals they all look 
like waiters on holiday. The great heresy of British diplo 
macy in this century has been our faith in the Anglo-French 
alliance. Its strength is a myth. It's never helped us. We've 
allowed ourselves to be misled into arrangements well, 
never mind. How is Eleanore, Martin?" 

"She's ill, sir. I told you/' 

"Ah, yes ill. That's the third time she's been ill in the 
last five years." 

"Yes," said Lambert. He felt that he was beginning to 
understand why the Foreign Secretary had sent for him, and 
he raised himself from the disadvantageous softness of the 
leather chair. 

"It's a pity," said Brangwyn, wriggling his chin where 
his stiff white collar was cutting it. "A pity. In a year or 
two, we might have made you Minister at Lisbon or some 
where. ..." 

"I don't understand, sir," said Martin. 

"It's very simple/' said the Foreign Secretary with a sud 
den asperity. "You've been Deputy Head of the News 
Department for three years. With your experience and 
qualifications you should have been promoted long ago. 
You haven't been. Do you understand why?" 

"It isn't a question for me to answer. I'm satisfied to do my 
job." 

"But you're handicapped . . ." 

Lambert looked at Brangwyn's expression that had be 
come milder. 

"Yes, handicapped. Your wife's illness . . ." 

"That, sir, is a misfortune a personal one. It has never 
interfered with my duties. . . ." 

"It has," Brangwyn said, and paused, waiting for a com 
ment from Lambert. Sir James Padley crossed his legs, and 
turned the typescript face-downwards. 

12 



"Eleanore is now in a nursing home near Toulon. . . ." 

"Yes. . . ." 

"Her ailment is a simple one. She drinks too much." 

Lambert pushed his chair away, and began to rise, but the 
Foreign Secretary waved him down. 

"No, Martin, you mustn't be wounded. ... I want you 
to understand that the delay in giving you a suitable post 
has nothing to do with any disability in yourself. You're all 
right." 

Lambert waited for Brangwyn to continue. 

"Your wife, you see, has given us a lot of trouble. At Nice 
at the reception given by the Mayor to the Inter- 
Parliamentary Union . . ." 

"WithGaniiplu?" 

"Yes." 

"She called him a Turk." 

"Yes." 

"But he is a Turk." 

"Exactly," said Brangwyn. "He didn't have to be re 
minded of it nor with the embellishments that Eleanore 
added. . . ." 

"I was there," said Lambert. "Eleanore was strained and 
tired, and Gantiplii was offensive you know how they 
sometimes become. . . ." 

"And in Paris last year at the cocktail party for General 
Melton's staff . . . Carlton Gardens three months ago 
when the Italian Prefects came on their goodwill tour . . . 
You know, you can't always blame the other fellow, Martin. 
There's a pattern in Eleanore's behaviour that you can't 
get away from." 

"The pattern. . . ." Lambert began, and stopped. 

They had arrived at the Faubourg St. Honor for the 
party, given by the Ambassador for General Melton and 

13 



his staff officers who had taken up their appointments at 
Versailles. 

"If you see me drink more than two/' Eleanore had said 
to him as they walked up the wide steps, "I give you per 
mission to come up nicely, of course and take it quietly 
from my hand. You will do it nicely, won't you, Martin?" 

For the first half-hour, as the room gradually filled with 
guests, French civil servants and Parliamentarians, officers 
from SHAPE, and the Embassy staff, Lambert, when he 
could look away from the Senator who was explaining to 
him how the Rhone barrage would profit French industry, 
caught occasional glimpses, in the gilt rococo looking-glasses 
that lined the walls, of Eleanore, surrounded by a courteous 
group of American officers, multiplied a dozen times in 
her black suit with its chinchilla edging. Through the 
assembly of heads, he smiled to her, and she waved back to 
him, raising one finger and pursing her mouth to say "one." 
Contented, Lambert went with Mathers, the press attach^, 
into a quieter adjoining room, where for a few minutes he 
read a lengthy handout which the Embassy was issuing to 
the newspapers that evening. 

"What do you think of it, Martin?" Mathers asked. 

"Excellent," said Lambert. "The only thing it leaves out 
is what the French want to know. All that interests them is 
how many divisions we're ready to keep on the Con 
tinent. . . ." 

Mathers shrugged his shoulders. "We're selling a carcase 
and calling it a horse. As long as the Foreign Secretary " 

A crash of laughter came from the next room, and Lam 
bert said, "Let's go back. The party's improving." 

They had difficulty in urging their way through the crowd 
that had now increased till the only gaps lay between incon- 
gruent bodies, buffered by hands holding glasses, or sepa 
rated for a second by the furrow of a sweating waiter calling, 



"Please, sir ... please, madam." 

At first, Lambert couldn't see Eleanore. He could only 
hear her laugh, a sudden shriek, above the waterfall-din of 
conversation. She had moved from where he had last seen 
her, but, in a corner near the window, he could see some of 
the junior American officers, who had come from SHAPE, 
surrounding a settee with arms linked over their shoulders 
as if in a football scrum. 

"Martin!" 

Anderson-Smith, the First Secretary, had edged his way 
up to him. 

"Martin, I think Eleanore's not feeling very well. H.E. 
thought you might want to take her home." 

Lambert heard his wife's voice from the settee. 

"Oh no!" she said in delight, prolonging the vowel. 
"No o!" 

The officers laughed loudly and Lambert thrust a path 
for himself to where his wife was sitting, with a low table in 
front of her and four empty glasses. 

"Hello, Martin," she said, her eyes bright and their pupils 
small. "This is my husband." 

The three officers greeted him. 

"I told you I had a husband," Eleanore repeated. "This is 
my husband. This is Van and this is Richard and this is 
Van. Two Vans!" She gave a little laugh into her glass. 

"That's right," said the Captain. "Well, if you'll excuse 
me, sir." He shook hands with Lambert. "Glad to have met 
you." The other officer whom Eleanore had called Richard 
bowed and left with him. 

"And this poor boy waiter! That damned waiter he 
won't look this poor boy," said Eleanore, pointing to the 
third officer, "is only twenty-seven twenty-seven and he's 
got a wife and two children in Toledo, Ohio. Show my 
husband the photographs, Van. He loves photographs. He 

15 



loves children. You do love children, don't you, Martin?" 

Her voice had risen, and her face was mottled. 

"Waiter!" she said in an emphatic voice, standing and 
pushing away the table with her shins. 

"Eleanore!" Lambert said. 

"I want a drink," she said, jostling a French officer who 
politely withdrew from between her and the waiter. Elea- 
nore stretched out her hand and took a gin and vermouth 
from the rattling tray that the waiter tried to withdraw. 

"That's better," she said, sitting again on the settee. 
"Martin, you mustn't let waiters be impertinent to your 
wife." 

She took another gulp from her glass, her fingers wet and 
shiny with the alcohol that had slopped over. 

"Van wouldn't allow it. Would you, Van?" 

"The lady wasn't to have any," the thin, elderly waiter 
said in Lambert's ear. "Madame said she wasn't to have any 
more." 

"Eleanore!" Lambert said. "I think we'd better go." 

"Why are you always in such a beastly hurry?" she asked. 
"You're always in a hurry when I'm enjoying myself. . . ." 

"I think I'd better be getting along," said Van. 

"Not yet," said Eleanore. "Poor Van only twenty-seven 
and all alone in Europe his wife . . ." 

"Ill say good-bye, ma'am. Good-bye, sir," he said to Lam 
bert. Lambert obliged himself to smile. 

"You see what you've done," Eleanore said. "He's gone. 
. . . I'm going to have a drink." 

"No," said Lambert in an undertone. "You're coming 
home. You've drunk too much already." He took her wrist. 

"Leave me alone," she said loudly. 

"Please be quiet," Lambert said, still in the same under 
tone. "I don't want . . ." 

"You can't bully me," she said, getting to her feet. "I'm 

16 



going to get another drink.'* 

Those nearest to them had carefully turned their backs 
to the conversation, leaving Lambert and his wife in an 
isolated hemisphere near the settee. 

"You're coming home," Lambert repeated quietly. 

"Leave me alone," she screamed. "You you bastard!" 

There was a sudden silence in the room, as if a talking 
film had broken and become congealed in a still. Then, in a 
moment, Anderson-Smith and the Ambassador's Private 
Secretary had hurried forward and said, "Eleanore, we 
wanted your advice on the new decorations in Chancery," 
and had taken her by the arm and, talking rapidly, led her 
away towards the cold, deserted offices. Lambert left im 
mediately behind them, and the conversation, momentarily 
subdued, rose again. 

"She's resting," Anderson-Smith said when he returned 
to the entrance-hall where Lambert was waiting. "She'll 
be all right in an hour or so. I'll get my wife to bring her 
home."- 

"No, thanks," said Lambert. "I'm very grateful to you, , 
John. I'll take her home myself." 

Anderson-Smith turned to go. "I'm terribly sorry, Martin. 
It's an awful nuisance I won't pretend it isn't. . . . Gets 
people differently. I think you might send a note to H.E. 
explain you had to leave early because Eleanore was ill." 

"Thank you," said Lambert. "I know the formula." 

He took his coat from the butler and walked out into the 
sudden chill of the courtyard, where, watching the high, 
lighted windows from an archway, he waited for the party 
to end. 

And later, at the George V, when they lay in their beds, 
she said to him, "Martin darling please forgive me." 
He looked across at her face, blotched and swollen from 



tears, and she began to cry again with desperate stumbling 
sobs. 

"Don't cry," he said. "It's no use. . . . It's . . ." 

"Oh, darling," she wept. "I'm so unhappy so unhappy. 
I want to die. All I want in life is to give you happiness, and 
it ends like this. . . ." 

"Not always . . ." 

"Yes always, always, always." 

He sat at her bedside, and drew the pale hair from her 
forehead. 

"It's it's that awful thing it's always with me I can't 
ever forget about it. I try to and want to but I can't. Oh, I 
can't. . . ." 

Her weeping had become a wail, and she clung to him 
with her mouth pressed into his neck. He stroked her hair 
and said, "It's over now. It's over. . . . It's years ago. No 
one was to blame." 

The familiar reassurance. 

"But I'm so frightened," she said, her sobs quietening. 
"I'm so frightened to go to sleep. I have such terrible 
dreams." 

"You'll sleep well tonight. . . . But if you hadn't drunk 
so much . . ." 

"Drunk so much!" she said, drawing away from him. 
"Drunk so muchl What do you care about my misery?" 

"I care very much very much indeed." 

She was lying on her back, with her face turned towards 
the ceiling, and had begun to cry again in a forlorn, hopeless 
lament that contorted her features. 

"Eleanore!" he said gently. "Don't cry, darling. Please 
don't cry." 

He looked at the white door with its golden traceries that 
divided their room from their neighbours'. "Don't cry. 
They'll hear you." 

18 



"That's all you care about/' she said, pausing in the mid 
dle of her wailing. "All you care about is what they'll say. 
You never give a damn for me never, never, never!" 

Her sobs, resuming, grew louder and she began to strike 
her pillow with the sodden handkerchief in her fist. 

Lambert walked to the curtains and, sitting on a chair by 
the window, propped his chin on his hand. At last, in ex 
asperation, he shouted, "Stop crying. . . . Oh God I've 
had enough of it. . . ." 

He began to dress in the darkness. The sound of his wife's 
weeping ceased. 

"Martini "she said. 

He didn't answer. 

"Martin!" she repeated. 

He still didn't answer, and continued to dress. 

She switched the light on and looked at him. 

"Martin," she said slowly, "if you leave me now, I'll kill 
myself." 

His hands that had begun to knot his tie dropped to his 
sides. 

"I'll kill myself," she repeated. "I swear it. ... Go on, 
you can go." 

He returned to the bedside and said, "Eleanore, why do 
you torment yourself like this why do you torment us 
both?" 

She had averted her face, and her nightdress had fallen 
from her shoulders in a black crenellation. 

"I'm repulsive to you," she said. "I know I am. Don't 
pretend I'm not. . . ." 

He put his hand under her warm armpit, and drew her 
towards him in silence. 

"I am, I am," she kept on repeating, groping for his 
mouth with hers, her eyes shut. He felt the drool of her 
saliva on the corner of his mouth. 



"You hate me," she kept repeating. "I'm repulsive to 
you." 

"No/* he said. "No, Eleanore. I don't hate you." 
Afterwards, watching her asleep, he began to compose a 
letter to the Ambassador. She slept with a slight frown on 
her face, stirring from time to time in a whimper as if she 
were listening to the sullen approach of her dreams. 

But that was three months ago, before their summer 
holiday. No one had mentioned it again. The Ambassador 
had been particularly amiable to Eleanore at the Constable 
Exhibition at the Orangerie when they stopped on their 
way to the South of France. What happened later had been 
private. The Abri and the drive over the mountain roads. 
And everything beginning again. 

And now in the Foreign Secretary's room, Lambert, who 
had begun an angry reply, saw his own memory of Eleanore 
in France not buried in the discretion of his colleagues 
but reflected, vivid and malicious, in Brangwyn's eyes. He 
stopped, lowered his head and waited on guard for the 
Foreign Secretary to continue. 

"I was thinking," said Brangwyn after a pause, "that your 
talents are wasted in the News Department." 

"Do you mean you want me to resign?" Lambert asked. 

Brangwyn rose from his chair, walked around the table 
and put his arm on Lambert's shoulder. Lambert didn't look 
up. 

"Resign?" Brangwyn said. "Resign? My dear fellow, can't 
you see I'm trying to help you?" 

"Why have you asked me here tonight, sir?" Lambert 
asked, standing, and disengaging himself from the Foreign 
Secretary's arm. Unrebuffed, Brangwyn linked his arm in 
Lambert's and began a slow promenade with him over the 

20 



length of the room. Padley watched them in silence. 

"How would you like to be posted to the Far East say 
for two years?" the Foreign Secretary asked. "Eleanore 
might perhaps follow you later when she's recovered in 
a year or so." 

"Is that a condition," Lambert asked "that I should 
leave her behind?" 

"It might be better," said the Foreign Secretary, "if you 
had time to get installed." 

Lambert paused and turned to him. 

"I'm very grateful to you for your offer, Andrew very. 
You've been extremely considerate. But I could only ac 
cept ..." 

"You're a little premature," said Brangwyn, stiffening. 
"There is no offer for the moment. I am only anxious to put 
it to you that there are prospects of employment in the 
Foreign Service which you may not have foreseen." He 
spoke the last words decrescendo. 

"At any rate," he said to Padley, "we can talk about that 
some other time." 

"Is that all, sir?" Lambert asked. 

"No," said the Foreign Secretary. "I'd almost forgotten 
why I asked you here." His voice was full and cheerful again. 
"Tell me, Martin. . . . How well do you know Augier?" 

"I know him very well. I see him almost every day at the 
press conference. . . ." 

"But do you know him socially, too?" 

"Yes. I used to see a lot of him in America not 'so much 
lately." 

"How would you rate him?" 

"Oh, he's first rate. Quite first rate. Probably the best of 
the French correspondents in London." 

"And if you had to rank Le Monde, Populaire with, say, 
Figaro, Le Monde, and France Soir . . ." 

21 



"Le Monde Populaire well, it's got the third biggest 
circulation it carries the best political reports I would 
say that it's about the most important paper from the point 
of view of forming public opinion." 

Lambert spoke in a crisp, official voice, the thought of 
Eleanore rejected to its familiar place in the undergrowth 
of his anxieties. 

"Would you agree, James?" said Brangwyn. 

"Oh, yes/' said Padley, throwing the typescript that he 
had been fingering onto the table. "Le Monde Populaire 
proves that thighs and busts aren't the only way of building 
a mass circulation. It flatters every French prejudice 
preaches the easy life neutralism and all the rest of it 
it's a very touchy paper, particularly where the Americans 
are concerned. ..." 

"They took offence," said Lambert, "when some Ameri 
can paper said that Marianne tucks her fee in the top of 
her silk stocking, and bilks." 

"I quite agree quite agree," said Brangwyn. "France 
may be a kept body, but she has her pride." 

"Come, come, Andrew," said Padley. "The French . . ." 

"Never mind that," said Brangwyn. "I don't want to hear 
the classic defence of France. Francophilia's the disease of 
the Foreign Office. Now, what about Le Monde Populaire?" 

"The attitude of Le Monde Populaire to H.M.G.," said 
Lambert, "is, I'm afraid, one of candid friendship." 

"That's very good," said Brangwyn, returning to his desk 
and making with his paper knife a design of pinpoints in 
his blotting-paper. "Very good indeed. Le Monde Populaire 
doesn't like the Rome Conference. . . ?" 

"No," said Lambert. "By next Saturday it should be in 
full blast against it. . . ." 

"When's the actual opening?" the Foreign Secretary 
asked, turning to Padley. 

22 



"On Saturday, there's the President's reception. The 
Bureau meets on Sunday. And the first session's today 
week," Padley answered. 

Without comment, the Foreign Secretary walked to the 
window and stood there for a few moments with his back 
to Lambert and Padley. At last, he faced them, and said. 

"Martin, I've a job for you." 

"Yes, sir." 

"It's a most important job. A most secret and confidential 
job. It shows the measure of our trust in you." 

"I am very grateful." Lambert waited for Brangwyn to 
continue. 

Instead, the Foreign Secretary offered Lambert a cigarette 
from the box on the table, absent-mindedly withdrew it be 
fore he could take one, and then lit a cigarette for himself. 

"I smoke too much," Brangwyn said, and began to cough 
again. 

At last, he said, "You must undertake never to divulge 
what we are about to discuss with you. You must never 
reveal that this meeting took place, and never in any cir 
cumstances not in any circumstances admit to any action 
that you may take as part of your duties." 

"Yes, sir," said Lambert. "You've told me it's secret. I 
gave my undertaking when I entered the Foreign Service." 

"Well, I'm not a professional diplomat," said the Foreign 
Secretary. "I am merely a businessman who lost his way and 
found himself in the Foreign Office. I only survive here," 
he added, playing with the fob of his thin watchchain, "be 
cause I've contracted a friendly alliance with the Permanent 
Under-Secretary and add a whiff of Magdalene to Throg- 
morton Street. . . . Now then, Martin! I want you to give 
me your solemn oath that what we now discuss will be 
secret at all times and in all circumstances." 

"I do," said Lambert, looking towards Sir James Padley 

23 



who was picking with his fingernail at a stain on his lapel. 

"Very well," said Brangwyn. "You see that typescript on 
the table." He pointed to the papers that Padley had been 
holding, and which now lay abandoned diagonally across a 
tray. 

"Yes." 

"Well, look at it." 

Lambert picked up the typescript and glanced rapidly at 
the first paragraph. 

"You see what it is," said the Foreign Secretary. 

"It looks like the copy of a Cabinet paper." 

"It's the draft of a Foreign Office submission to the 
Cabinet a submission based on certain assumptions . . ." 

"I see. . . ." 

". . . which the French ought to know about. You see, 
Martin, the trouble with the French is that they've sunk into 
a political indifferentism. Whenever there's a crisis, they 
take to their beds. What they need is a shock . . . and they 
need it before the Conference. We want you, Martin, to 
see that they get it." 

"You want me to?" 

"Yes. Don't read it now." 

With a start of resentment at the imperative voice, Lam 
bert handed the papers back to Brangwyn, who turned the 
pages as he spoke. 

"The theme of this submission is a simple one. It's this 
that dependence on the Anglo-French alliance is an 
anachronism; it belongs to the days when our sea power had 
to be backed by a neighbouring infantry power." 

"Yes, but . . ." 

"No, no. I'm not going to argue this matter. I'm explain 
ing this document. . . . My point is that we live in a new 
scientific age, and diplomacy hasn't caught up with it. The 
aeroplane, the rocket, the guided missile have made us all 

24 



neighbours, and the accident of geography that stuck us 
next to the French is no longer important. Britain's natural 
allies are the Germans. " 

He turned to Padley, and said parenthetically, "I do wish 
I could make you see that it's desirable and not a bad al 
ternative, James." 

"At any rate/' he went on, "I want to give the French a 
last chance before the Rome Conference. I want them to 
know what I have in mind that if they're not with us 
wholly and without reservation then, as the Americans 
have put it, we'll go along with the Germans wholly and 
formally." 

''Where do I come into this? Lambert asked. The Foreign 
Secretary was like a conjuror producing from his pocket a 
never-ending flag which had not yet formed into a design. 

"I want the Monde Populaire to publish this paper by 
next Thursday. ... It will be the biggest fuite d'in- 
formation since the Ems telegram. You know the French 
press well, Martin. I want you to see that they get it. And 
I want you to describe it as the copy of an approved Cabinet 
paper. . . . That will be a convenience when we issue a 
formal denial later next week." 

"But it is a genuine document a secret document. . . ." 

"Of course. It represents my views my personal carbon 
rescued by myself from incineration or shredding or 
whatever they do with it." 

"I see," said Lambert. The Foreign Secretary was holding 
the typescript towards him. "But if this paper is published 
if it has an opposite effect? What if the shock causes a 
sort of paralysis?" Lambert asked. 

The Foreign Secretary tapped his left hand with the 
papers. "That, I think, is my business," he said. "I'm only 
asking you to carry out a simple task." 

Lambert looked at him directly. "It isn't a simple task. 

25 



It's easy to hand the paper over. That's nothing. What is 
difficult " 

"Rubbish," said the Foreign Secretary. "You're teetering 
on the edge of sanctimoniousness. What do you think diplo 
macy is? It's war continued by other means. . . ." 

"Andrew," said Padley to Lambert, "is the greatest British 
statesman since Bismarck." 

"The Germans," said Brangwyn, "were the first to admit 
that the only object of politics is power. Nothing is im 
moral that helps us to the purposes that we serve our 
party, our cause, our country. That's the premise we must 
start from. So don't " 

Lambert had opened his mouth to speak. 

"No, don't offer me any moral objections. I have nothing 
to gain from this. I have no political ambitions. I'm Foreign 
Secretary but only because the Prime Minister called me 
to serve." 

He had stretched himself to his full height, and was be 
ginning an oration. 

"I would have been content to stay in Parliament for an 
other two or three years, and then to retire to the country. 
But this " he fumbled for the right commonplace "this 
is a dangerous world. We must all play our part. If I ask 
you to do this, Martin," he was now persuasive, "it's because 
it is a useful and important job that you can do better than 
anyone else. You'll be helping Britain. Here, take it." 

"I'm sorry," said Lambert, withdrawing a half-step till his 
leg pressed against the seat of the arm-chair. "It isn't my line 
of country." 

"Don't keep saying that," said the Foreign Secretary, with 
a spasm of irritation. 

"It's the first time I've said it," Lambert said coolly. 

"What right have you to assume," Brangwyn insisted, 
"that you are more moral and virtuous than we are?" 

26 



"I'm not assuming. . . ." 

"Do you think we enjoy " The Foreign Secretary 
stopped in the middle o his sentence, and smiled. "I hope 
you're not going to be silly," he said. "I understand your 
scruples. But this isn't news; it's strategy. You're a diplomat, 
not a journalist. As a giver of news, you'd be justified in 
refusing consciously to mislead a number of excellent 
people who trust you. But this is a much bigger question 
than that. It really is a matter of high diplomacy. Isn't 
that so, James?" 

"Yes," said Padley. 

"You may never again have a chance, Martin, of acting 
so directly as an instrument of your country's policy not 
even if you become an ambassador. And heaven only 
knows, if you're not ready to take this opportunity . . ." 
He slapped his hand on the table so that a glass paperweight 
jumped. 

Lambert stood uncertainly for a few moments, looking 
from the Foreign Secretary to Padley and back again. Padley 
nodded. 

And, suddenly, the typescript seemed to Lambert like an 
invitation to end a phase of his life, the plodding hours at 
the Foreign Office, the arid press conferences, meetings, 
the flat in Portman Square, the weekly letter from Eleanore. 

"There are prospects of employment . . . which you 
may not have foreseen," the Foreign Secretary had said. 
In a new environment, Dr. Fourneaux had said, away from 
her associations that was it away from her associations 
Mrs. Lambert will have a greater sense of security. It showed 
the measure of the Foreign Secretary's trust. But Padley. 
He mattered more. He had trust in Padley Padley with 
his thin, friendly, diffident face. Padley who had helped 
and protected him the second time Eleanore became ill 

27 



when Sir Arthur Baggott, the Head of the Western Depart 
ment, had suggested his resignation. For Padley, to whom 
he had only spoken half a dozen times in private during 
the whole of his service, he felt both respect and affection, 
the reverential shyness of a fourth-form schoolboy before 
a well-bred headmaster. 

Padley nodded. It was a nod of advice, a surreptitious, 
intimate nod. 

"Well?" Brangwyn asked. 

"Very well, sir," Lambert said. "I'll do it." 

"Excellent," said the Foreign Secretary. "Take it and put 
it away in your pocket." 

Lambert folded the papers and put them in his breast 
pocket. 

"Excellent," Brangwyn repeated. "Excellent . . . And 
by the way, Martin, when this is all over what are you 
doing at the week-end?" 

"I'm going to the country apart from joining your send- 
off party on Saturday," 

"Good. Keep out of the way. When we return," he was 
now smiling happily, "the Permanent Secretary will see you 
again officially. We're going to post you to Japan. . . ." 

"Japan." Lambert said after him. 

"Yes, and you can send for Eleanore whenever she wants 
to go. . . ." 

Lambert put his brief-case under his arm. 

"I'm most grateful to you, sir. Most grateful . . . I think 
Eleanore and I ... that we'll have a better chance . . ." 

"Let us leave that subject," said Brangwyn indifferently. 
"In this office we are primarily concerned with international 
matters. Spiritual and matrimonial affairs we leave to the 
clergy, the psychiatrists and the courts. You will, I'm sure, 
be able to solve all your problems under the cherry trees. 

28 



Good-night and don't forget Augier." 

As Lambert turned to go, he suddenly stopped and said, 
"Just one thing. Will there be any record of this conversa 
tion?" 

"No," said Brangwyn. "You need have no anxiety. 
There'll be no record, no minute nothing." 

The fog had settled over the streets like a steady snowfall, 
muffling sound and distorting familiar aspects. Lambert 
heard the voices of two policemen on duty in Downing 
Street, and felt his way past the bollards at the entrance of 
the Foreign Office towards the pavement on the other side 
of the road in the hope that a taxi might be parked at the 
bottom of the cul-de-sac. But the papers bulked against his 
chest like a warning. He changed his mind and, with his 
left hand touching the railings, walked towards the orange 
aura of a street-lamp that shone from the top of an invisible 
stanchion in Whitehall. The fog gave him comfort. It shel 
tered his secret. And the secret in turn gave him compan 
ionship. The Foreign Secretary and Sir James Padley were 
his partners, accomplices in responsibility. 

In Whitehall, the pavements and roadway were confused 
in an ochreous miasma, occasionally freckled with the 
briefly visible lights of cars and buses in convoy, led by 
shouting men on foot. With his shoulder towards the 
Ministry of Health and keeping as his guide the lamp in 
the tower of the Houses of Parliament, Lambert groped his 
way yard by yard to a telephone box near the Home Office, 
repeating Augier's number. 



II 



SHE TOOK OFF her glasses, and her face smudged in the 
mirror. Below the left corner of her lip the small patch of 
acne that she had drenched with hot water earlier in the 
evening till it pricked with a flush of blood, became a 
powdered shadow. Carefully she raised her fingers towards 
her chin, her ears and her hair, to make sure that the red 
cluster was hidden, the unaccustomed rhinestone earrings 
still pendant, and her hair arranged like that of the model 
who stared at her from Vogue. 

"But does your cream make-up cover every flaw, every 
freckle, every trace of fatigue without turning your face 
into a mask? Does it stroke on in seconds, and last all day 
long?" the caption asked. 

She had no doubt that it didn't; already in the last half- 
hour she had reconstructed her make-up four times, and 
even now she had not achieved the matt indifference, the 
soliciting challenge of the model's direct, unsmiling eyes and 
parted lips. She opened her mouth, and decided she had 
opened it too much. As though closing a pair of calipers, she 
gradually drew her lips together to the point of fashionable 
separation, a quarter of an inch from each other. 

With her mouth composed, she turned to her school pic 
ture that stretched for three feet above the fireplace in a 
setting of horse brasses and red and green rosettes pinned 

3 



to the wall. They bracketed the years from Pony Club to 
Advanced Certificate. Miss Dorien and her staff. Miss Dorien 
and her staff in their skirts and jumpers and pearls and 
white hair waved for the photograph. Miss Bell, Miss 
Cheadle, Miss Fretts, Miss Bolton. There they were, among 
two hundred girls echeloned in chairs over the garden- 
triangle with the institutional background of the school 
behind them, rose windows, stone arches of Victorian 
Gothic and the four trees in summer leaf. 

And she herself of only two years ago, straight-haired, her 
hands on her lap, identical with all the rest in her white 
blouse and cardigan, rigid, and praying, praying, praying 
that by some miracle the scum-laden water in the school 
baths might gurgle away and she be released from her 
commission to dive for the House, or at least that the photog 
rapher might ask for more and more sittings till the after 
noon had dwindled and the swimming was cancelled. 

Miss Bolton. Miss Bolton. The name evoked the terror of 
her school with its hours and clanging bells, the odour of 
wet mackintoshes in its corridors, stodge, prep, the games 
and the angry mistresses, and the gentle mistresses, the 
protectors and their favourites, and the nausea of ex 
aminations. 

From downstairs, she could hear Lambert's voice and her 
father's punctuating assent. It was a formality that persisted 
in his retirement. During nearly thirty years in the Consular 
Service, Fergusson had learnt to signal his attention in the 
course of his interviews by a system of sympathetic mur 
murs, while his mind occupied itself with his closer and 
more personal interests. Even when he came to visit her at 
school the signature J.F. on his postcards from Nice and 
Bogota and Santander, the portraits of churches, volcanoes 
and mediaeval saints, translated at last into a father he 
still listened to her with the sounds of his profession. 



She enjoyed the deference of her teachers towards her 
elderly father. If her mother, whom she barely remembered, 
had been alive, she might have been like all the other 
mothers, middle aged and behatted; or even like her own 
occasional aunts, thin, clipped and wearing tweed costumes, 
with whom, in a sad progress through Scotland and Devon 
at her father's designation, she spent her holidays. But he 
was different. When her father arrived at school, it was a 
ceremony. He came from abroad; he represented a Royal 
Majesty in whose family life the staff were much concerned; 
he was authorised to come on non-visiting days, so that 
while the other girls were in their classes, Valerie and he 
walked together across the empty Triangle. 

Their day had a routine. Fergusson called for her in a 
taxi. Then they drove to a hotel, and had tea. He asked her 
questions about her teachers and games and her friends, till 
he had spent his conversation and for lack of it loaded her 
plate with pastries. Towards six o'clock, he used to say: 
''Must be getting back. Be a good girl." It was the moment 
when, after the hours of strangeness, she thought, "This is 
my father," and each of them began to feel that he had 
ownership in the other. The day was over. Her father took 
her hand, awkwardly as if expecting a rebuff, and she drove 
with him to the station. 

"Good-bye, Valerie," her father said. "Let me know if 
you want anything." And to show his love he gave her a 
pound note instead of an embrace, while she, at every age 
thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen and seventeen, her eyes 
blurring with tears, and her nose congested would hold 
his sleeve for a moment, without words to say that she 
loved him or even to call him by some name. 

Not that he was always tender and considerate. When he 
retired three years before and reopened Felling Priory he 
had become peevish as if he resented his inactivity. One 

32 



day, after lunch, when Martin Lambert, a friend from the 
Foreign Office, had been staying with them, her father said 
in her presence, "I'm too old to get married again. And 
anyhow, I've had bad luck with my wives. I lost my first 
with my luggage and my vice-consul locally recruited, of 
course on the way to Bogota. My second was a Spanish 
royalist. She embarrassed me very much. She was lost flying 
to the Azores. My third . . ." But Lambert had risen and 
said, "Show me the garden, Valerie/' 

They went into the garden together, and Lambert took 
her hand as they walked in the hot sunshine over the ir 
regular stone path that sprouted purple weeds from its 
crevices. 

"It's very neglected," Valerie said. "We've only got one 
man to look after the whole garden, and Daddy hates 
gardening." 

"I suppose," said Lambert, "he doesn't know the dif 
ference between a Cydonica Japonica and a Rubus 
Biflorus. . . ." 

"Oh, yes," Valerie answered. "Daddy often helps me with 
botany. It's just that he likes thinking about things, not 
doing them." 

"I see," said Lambert. She drew him through a tangle of 
peonies, phlox and Michaelmas daisies. 

"We've got a wistaria three times as big as that at school," 
she said. "It's supposed to be the biggest in Surrey." 

He hesitated before answering, and confused, she added, 
"It's the sandy soil." 

"Yes," said Lambert, and took hold of a sprig to pluck it. 
The bush shook out a commotion of bees, and Valerie drew 
away. 

"Don't be afraid," said Lambert, and handed her a small 
sprig of the wistaria. She smelt it, and put it in a buttonhole 
of her school blouse. 



On their way back to the house, Lambert tried to inquire 
about her examinations. But she walked quickly ahead of 
him, her mind wholly excited by the surprising moment in 
which he had given her the blossom. 

When they arrived at the house, she hurried upstairs to 
her room, and sat for ten minutes looking at the mauve 
wistaria. It was the first object in the drawer that she called 
her museum. 

She pulled the drawer open, and fingered the crumbling 
wistaria, the two photographs which she had taken from an 
illustrated magazine, the newspaper cuttings. 

"Birthdays: Mr. Martin Lambert, 39." That was her 
last addition from the Daily Telegraph. Then there was: 
"New Diplomatic Appointment: The Foreign Office an 
nounced yesterday that Mr. M. R. Lambert has been ap 
pointed Deputy Head of the News Department. Mr. 
Lambert, who is 36, was in the British Embassy in Paris in 
1940 at the time of the fall of France. Since 1945, he has 
held a number of appointments in the United States. After 
a short period as principal Private Secretary to Mr. 
Gauntlet, he spent three years with the British delegation 
at Lake Success, before taking up his post with the Informa 
tion Services." 

That was from The Times of three years ago when he 
gave her the wistaria. And the photograph. 

She raised it close to her face, and read the caption: "A 
Gay Party at Megve: Enjoying themselves in the snow is 
this young group of diplomats and their lovely wives. From 
left to right, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Lambert . . ." 

Dwarfing a brilliant white Alp, with their skis piled in 
the snow behind them, Lambert and his wife in the centre 

34 



of a group of their friends were smiling at each other. In 
her black trousers and white jacket with its tight black 
hood, Lambert's wife, Valerie decided, looked exactly like 
the girl in Vogue. "Mr. and Mrs. Martin Lambert . . ." 
Valerie shut the drawer, and returned to the looking- 
glass. She'd have to go downstairs. Her father had already 
called her once. 

She pulled at the wrinkling collar of the red dress that 
she had bought in Cirencester, and began to rehearse her 
entrance. He'd be sure to say, "Hello, Valerie. How you've 
changed! You were such a child. . . ." And she'd say, 
"One's bound to change, Mr. Lambert. Gro wing-up is a 
process of discarding things." It had the sophisticated ring 
of the aphorism by Miss Fretts, the English mistress, "Art 
is a process of selection." 

"Gro wing-up is a process of discarding things," she said 
aloud at her image in the mirror. Too severe. She didn't like 
the stiffness in her voice. She smiled into her face, and 
began more casually. This time her voice was firm, but with 
a relaxed drawl that went with a light stir of her left 
eyebrow. 

"Oh, you know, Martin," she said to herself aloud, "grow- 
ing-up's a process of discarding things." 

She didn't like that either. A voice like that needed a 
cigarette holder. She tried again. 

"Well, I can't see myself. But I'm certain I must have 
changed. After all, Martin, I was only a child when we last 
met. One can't always wear pigtails." Her voice was loud 
and emphatic. A pause. "After all, gro wing-up is a process of 
discarding things." 

As she finished this address to herself, she saw at the side 
of her face, like the materialisation of a familiar and un 
wanted spirit, her father's face. 

"Discard the two curling pins at the back of your hair, 

35 



and come down at once," he said, and was gone. 

"He heard me," she said to herself. "He heard me/' 
And a tremor of shame and indignity began in her legs 

and passed to her stomach and her hands. She fumbled for 

the pins in her hair, and left the room without switching 

off the light. 

Lambert stood up when she entered, and stretched out 
his hand. 

"Hello," he said. "It's appalling of me to turn up at ten 
to nine. But I did telephone your father. ..." 

"He told me. . . . What was the fog like? Did you have 
a bad journey?" 

"It was pretty thick till I got out of London, and then, 
all of a sudden, I ran into a bright sunset." 

"It's been absolutely clear here," said Fergusson. "Impos 
sible even to imagine a fog. I've spent so many years looking 
at boringly blue skies. You give me a slight nostalgic de la 
brume." 

"It's like most nostalgias," said Lambert. "Satisfy it, and 
you'll be cured for ever. Like people who want to recapture 
the comradeship of air-raids." 

"All right, all right," said Fergusson. "I wasn't serious. 
We hope you're going to stay the week. ..." 

"Till next Friday except for tomorrow." 

"Tomorrow?" Valerie asked. 

"Yes. I've only come for brandy and breakfast. Tomor 
row I've got to wave good-bye to the Foreign Secretary at 
Northolt." 

"But you'll come back," she said quickly. "As soon as you 
can. . . ?" 

"In the evening ..." 

"The disturbed week-end," said Fergusson. "It's the 
malady of the profession. I wish I could have the hours 

36 



again that I've spent greeting and saying good-bye to un 
welcome visitors on Saturday and Sunday . . . drunken 
sailors, standard tourists, lunatic Englishwomen, Cabinet 
Ministers . . . the whole lot of them." 

"I'll leave without ceremony. I promise. . . ." 

"No, you won't," said Fergusson. "I've delegated all pro 
tocol to Valerie. When she goes into the Foreign Serv 
ice . . ." 

"Are you, Valerie?" Lambert asked. Relaxed in the 
leather arm-chair, he smiled to her as she sat on a high- 
backed chair with her hands folded on her lap. 

"Oh, no. Don't believe a word Father says. I really don't 
know what I'm going to do. St. Anne's to begin with . . ." 

"But that's excellent. When do you go up?" 

"Next year, I hope. . . . I'm spending this year at home 
looking after Daddy." 

Lambert turned to her father. "You're very lucky. The 
leisured domestic life." He looked around at the book-cases 
and said, "All the books in the world, all the time to read 
them . . ." 

"Rubbish," said Fergusson. "You wouldn't want them 
if you had them. Give him some more brandy, Valerie. 
. . . You like conferences, news, denials, anonymity, 
power. ..." 

"I've no power/' said Lambert with a laugh. "I'm not 
even a* voice. I'm a channel." 

Valerie took the heavy bottle of Armagnac and began to 
fill his glass. But as she did so, its weight slowly toppled the 
glass over the edge of the table. 

"Look out, Valerie," her father called, and stretched for 
ward, too late. The brandy spilled from the unbroken glass 
in a pale stain over the carpet. 

"My dear girl," Fergusson said, "why don't you wear your 
glasses? You know you're blind as a bat without them." 

37 



"I'm so sorry/' Valerie answered, wiping the brandy with 
her handkerchief. "Terribly sorry." Her neck and face 
reddened. 

"It was all my fault," said Lambert. "I caught the glass 
with the edge of my sleeve. Sorry, John," he said to Fergus- 
son. "Treat it as a libation. It's the best Armagnac I've 
drunk in years." 

"It's the remains of a dozen bottles I got when I was 
en poste at Nantes," said Fergusson, appeased. "My God, 
what a place! I was there for over a year. A sort of third- 
rate Bristol. You've got to be a painter to be able to bear it. 
And that for only two days. When you've done the 
quays . . ." 

"Do you mind if we hear the news?" Lambert interrupted 
him. "I'd like to hear if there's anything from France on the 
leak." 

Valerie switched on the wireless and Lambert rose, and 
stood with his back against the fireplace, hands in pockets, 
waiting for the announcer's voice to come from the mahog 
any cabinet. 

"Further outlook. Cloudy over much of Scotland and 
northern Ireland; some bright intervals likely in southern 
and eastern England; elsewhere persistent fog. . , ." 

"Poor Mr. Lambert," said Valerie. "I'm so sorry for you 
having to drive back through the fog." 

"The United States delegation has arrived in Rome for 
the Conference which will hold its inaugural session at 
Quirinal on Monday. The British delegation is expected 
tomorrow. . . ." 

Lambert leaned over the set that had begun to crackle. 

"My dear boy," said Fergusson. "You mustn't admire 
your own work so conspicuously. It's only this morning that 
you gave them all this." 

38 



Lambert raised his hand as the announcer went on. 

"The French Cabinet met again this morning to discuss 
the publication by Le Monde Populaire of an alleged 
British Cabinet paper. An interpellation has been tabled by 
M. LeMaistre, Independent, asking the French Govern 
ment to postpone its participation in the Rome Conference 
till a debate has taken place. . . . 

A Foreign Office spokesman said today in London that 
it was not for Her Majesty's Government to confirm or 
deny the authenticity of irresponsible reports." 

Lambert switched the wireless off. 

"I don't see that," said Valerie. "Why doesn't the Foreign 
Office. . . ?" 

"The Foreign Office!" Fergusson echoed contemptuously. 

"If the Foreign Office were to try and deny canards," 
Lambert said to Valerie, "it would mean that everyone left 
undenied would be assumed to be true. Besides," he added, 
"the Foreign Office sometimes likes to keep the world 
guessing." 

"The F.O. never lies," said Fergusson, rotating his 
brandy glass in his cupped hands, "but sometimes it only 
tells half the truth. It's quite clear that the French have got 
on to something don't say 'Yes' or 'No/ Martin I've 
never for a moment thought we were security-tight at the 
Foreign Office. After all, why should we assume that we're 
any more free from Communists than the State Depart 
ment?" 

"Because," said Lambert, "there's an older, more con 
servative mood in Britain." 

"And?" 

"And in any case, the British Foreign Service has been re 
cruited from a narrower, more reliable range than the State 
Department." 

39 



"But in the late 19305 don't you think there were Com 
munists at the Universities, men who later went into the 
Civil Service?" 

"Well?" 

"Of course there were, Martin. Don't be naive. There 
must have been dozens of them and they're still there . . . 
all of them hugging their guilt and some of them making 
private penance." 

"But this leak," said Lambert. "Do you think the report 
was leaked by a Communist in the Department?" 

"Why not?" said Fergusson. "Valerie, give Martin an 
other brandy and mind the bottle. . . . Why not, Mar 
tin? . . . What about that fellow . . . what's his name 
. . . Sparr-Gamby in the Western Division?" 

"Oh, he's all right," said Lambert. "He's only become a 
traditional reference because someone asked a question 
about him in the House." 

"I've never heard of him," said Valerie. "What did he 
do?" 

"Nothing much," said Lambert. "He once wrote a rather 
dreary article on 'Realism in Russian Literature' for a 
leading Communist review . . . edited by a very respect 
able poet who has now recanted and edits a leading anti- 
Communist review." 

"That may be," said Fergusson. "I only mention him as 
the part of the iceberg above the water. What about the 
rest? I've absolutely no faith in the security system at the 
Foreign Office absolutely none. After all, look at Jones. 
Why was he put in charge of security?" 

He emptied his glass of Armagnac and recharged it. 

"There was a vacancy the Americans started complain 
ing about security. . . . And Brangwyn looked around for 
somebody to do the job. Then one evening, he was at a din- 

40 



ner party . . . about twelve of them. Jones was there from 
the Foreign Office . . . sat next to Brangwyn. . . . Didn't 
say a single word the whole evening. And on the way back, 
Brangwyn said to Padley in the car I've found just the man 
for security. Jones. Knows how to keep his mouth shut.' " 
"Well," said Lambert, "the only time I've ever heard 
Jones say anything was at a meeting when Brangwyn asked 
him to give a report on security." 

"Careful, Martin," said Fergusson, "Valerie's listening 
to you entranced." 

"Oh, Daddy," Valerie protested. 

"It isn't a great secret," said Lambert. "Jones reported 
. . . you know, in that cracked, undertaker's voice. . . . 
The Secret Waste is destroyed each morning.' And that 
was all." 

"The man's hopeless," said Fergusson. "The papers are 
absolutely right." 

"They're very excited about the whole thing," said Lam 
bert. 

"There was a lovely leader this morning," said Valerie. 
She picked up a newspaper, and spread it over her knees 
at the foot of the arm-chair where Lambert had taken a 
seat. "Do listen!" 

She began to read: " Talk, talk, talk. There's always talk 
of security at the Foreign Office. If security were built by 
talk alone, a major Cabinet paper would not be hawked on 
the boulevards today.' " She glanced down the column. 
"They're simply furious with Jones. 'Sir Wystan Gorse- 
Jones must go. For why? We must show the world that the 
Foreign Office can be trusted. . . . There are younger men 
ready to take his place, men with a spirit of adventure, men 
who believe in the Empire. . . .' That's you, Martin," she 
ended. 



Her father looked at her quickly. "You see how it is," 
he said to Lambert. "You see how soon our juniors become 
our familiars." 

He sat in silence for a few moments, and then said, "How 
ever the thing leaked out, it's certainly shaken the French." 

"There won't be any more talk of neutralism," said 
Lambert. 

"Except by the neutralists. Do you really think, Martin, 
that this leakage has done anything except scare them stiff? 
And for every Frenchman it frightens to our side, it'll 
frighten three away. Brangwyn ought to be impeached." 

"Why?" said Lambert quickly. 

"For stupidity and slackness in security. It's the most 
damaging thing that's happened to us for ten years. . . . 
Why the devil . . . You know, you can't bully the French 
into loving you." 

"It's too early to say," said Lambert. "I'll tell you more 
next week. Somehow, though, I think Andrew isn't your 
favourite Minister." 

"He isn't. I've known him too long. I knew him when he 
first got into the House a stuttering Front Bencher 
straight from the City. The worst Minister of Labour we've 
ever had. Everything he touched came off in his hand. 
Never a crisis without a strike. . . ." 

"Yes," said Lambert, "But every strike was settled. . . ." 

"With the bitterest of memories," said Fergusson. "I 
knew him after he lost his seat, too he was a sort of political 
ambulance-chaser, always looking for a by-election. When 
any M.P. fell ill, he'd invariably ring up and ask after his 
health. Everyone knew that when he said, 'How are you?' 
he meant, 1 trust you're dying.' " 

"Oh, Daddy," said Valerie. 

"But of course " said Fergusson. He was becoming 
angry, and his face reddened under his white hair "I'm 

42 



not suggesting that Brangwyn's an insensitive man. Oh, no! 
You should see him at Question Time in the House when 
he's being attacked. Most sensitive, I assure you! He goes 
yellow, his lip trembles, his papers flutter . . . he's a very 
sensitive fellow. But give him the chance to send a Note to 
... to Iceland. . . . Then you'll see the stuff he's made 
of. . . ." 

"I don't agree at all," Lambert said curtly. "I think he's a 
man of great ability." 

"I'm sorry, Martin. I'm offending you. I forgot you're 
related to him." 

"Only by marriage my elder half-sister whom I never 
meet is his wife. We all treat each other with the strict 
est formality. She regards me as being slightly disrepu 
table." 

Fergusson shrugged his shoulders. "That's the destiny of 
younger half-brothers. How's Eleanore?" 

Lambert had raised his glass to his mouth, but he paused 
half-way and put it down. 

"She hasn't been very well," he answered. "She's at 
Bandol. Actually, I'm expecting a telephone call from 
her. . . ." 

"I see," said Fergusson. 

"She's so beautiful," said Valerie. 

"When did you see her?" Lambert asked. 

"I've only seen her photographs," Valerie replied. 

"She's better looking than her photographs," said Fer 
gusson. 

"She was very ill in the summer," said Lambert, and he 
remembered her as he had left her in the clinic at Bandol, 
her eyes shut and rimmed with blue, a trace of sweat on her 
forehead, her bare arm dangling as in defeat over the side 
of the bed, and the nurse preparing to untie the mosquito 
net. 

43 



"I do wish you'd bring her to see us one day," Valerie 
said. "I'd so much . . ." 

"Yes/' said Lambert. "What are you going to read when 
you go up?" 

At ten o'clock, after Fergusson had spent half an hour in 
reminiscence of his post at Santander, he suddenly got up 
and said, "Bed!" 

Lambert rose as well, but Fergusson said, "There's no 
hurry, Martin. Give him a whisky and soda, Valerie," and 
walked heavily to the door. 

"Can I get you anything, Daddy?" Valerie asked. 

"No," said Fergusson. "Don't stay up late." 

"He's so lonely," Valerie said when he had shut the door. 
"He goes to bed every night at ten he goes to his room, 
and shuts himself away. I don't think he sleeps. I sometimes 
see his light burning for hours. And when he takes sleeping 
pills, he's so bad tempered next day." 

"And what about you?" Lambert asked. "Have you many 
friends?" 

"Not many," said Valerie. "Since Father's come here, he 
hasn't really wanted to meet anyone." 

"But doesn't he invite people to meet you?" 

"Oh, no at least, hardly ever. But I don't really mind. 
When I go up to St. Anne's, I suppose I'll meet lots of 
people." 

"Why didn't you go up this year you could have tried 
the other places, couldn't you?" 

Valerie began to press the trigger of the soda-siphon, and 
Lambert took it from her hand. 

"You've got to be careful," he said. "Otherwise it'll squirt 
all over the table." 

"Yes," she answered. 

"Why aren't you going up this year?" he insisted. 

44 



"I don't know," she said. "I suppose it's because I wanted 
to keep Daddy company. And he was terribly keen on me 
spending a year at home. ..." 

"But it's it's so lonely for you," Lambert said. "Good 
lord, at your age you ought to be having fun not stuck 
here looking at cows." 

"I like it," Valerie said. "I like it very much. I love the 
country. I couldn't bear to live in London." 

"Oh, well," said Lambert. "I mustn't try and make you 
restless." 

"You won't make me restless," said Valerie. "I don't know 
about Daddy. I noticed how he brightened up when you 
spoke of the Foreign Office. And he got so furious about 
the report. I've never known him take such an inter 
est. . . ." 

"Your father's an exceptional man," said Lambert. 
"Don't underrate him, Valerie. I've known and liked him 
for years." 

"Oh, he's terribly fond of you, too terribly. You can't 
imagine how he's been looking forward to your coming 
here. All of a sudden, he seemed to become years younger. 
He spent the whole of yesterday morning cleaning the guns 
in case you wanted to go rabbiting." 

"That's very touching," said Lambert. 

"You're not being ironic?" she asked suspiciously. 

"No, not in the least bit. Your father is one of the few 
really kind men I've ever met. Even when he gets 
tough ..." 

"Oh, he does with me sometimes. He says he has to like 
someone very much before he'll bother to be rude to him. 
He told me, though, that you're the prime illustration of 
the crassness of the Foreign Office. ..." 

Lambert laughed. 

"You mean," he said, "that I ..." 

45 



"Oh, no, not you the Foreign Office. Daddy thinks 
they're stupid not to have promoted you years ago. You 
see, he's got his own grudge against the Foreign Secretary." 

"Yes." 

"He didn't really want to retire. . . ." 

"No, I know he didn't." 

"He was so certain they were going to make him Consul 
General in Chicago. It was Brangwyn who stopped it. He 
said Daddy was too old." 

Lambert gave a short laugh, and Valerie looked up at 
him in surprise. 

"Why do you laugh?" she asked. "Didn't you like Chi 
cago?" 

"I liked it to begin with yes. Not so much later on. We 
had a house on the North Side by the lake." 

"I wish," said Valerie, clasping her arms around her 
knees, "I wish you'd tell me something about all the places 
you've been to. All my life I've been related to people who 
travel, and I've never been anywhere myself. . . ." 

" 'You change your place not your soul when you cross 
the sea' have you ever read the Epistles?" 

"Yes, we did them last term. Horace was a tired, un 
healthy old cynic when he wrote that. He'd exhausted him 
self with debauchery, and when he couldn't enjoy Baiae any 
more, he said travel was a bad thing. I want to travel 
everywhere Italy, France, Greece. All those lovely places 
that end in 'a' and 'o.' I long to go to Perugia. Perugia! 
Don't you think it's got a wonderful sound? Perugia! 
Perugia!" 

She got up, and collected the glasses from the tables, and 
Lambert watched her contentedly. 

"Have you seen the Exhibition of Italian Art at Burling 
ton House?" she asked, returning to her place on the cushion 
at the side of his arm-chair. Lambert hesitated for a mo- 

46 



ment, and answered, "Yes ... I went specially to see the 
Giorgione/' 

"The lovely one . . . the one on the poster . . ." 

"I sat looking at it half an hour/' 

From three fifteen to nearly a quarter to four on the day 
after the Foreign Secretary had given him the papers, he had 
sat on the padded bench in front of the "Concert," waiting 
for Augier's messenger. "He will say," Augier had told him, 
" 'The Louvre is generous to lend it.' " 

Around him, the changing observers admired the picture, 
and Lambert pressed with his finger-tips the papers folded 
in the catalogue. At a quarter to four, a young man next to 
him took out a packet of Gaullois, smiled apologetically and 
put them back in his raincoat. He looked from Lambert 
to the Giorgione and said, "The Louvre is generous to lend 
it." 

"Yes," said Lambert. He had placed the catalogue at his 
side. When the young man rose, Lambert said, "I think this 
is your catalogue." 

"For half an hour. . . ." Valerie repeated. "How won 
derful! I do so love that picture. We've got a reproduction 
of it in one of the Phaidon books." 

She brought the volume from the shelves, and they held 
it together on his knees. With his left hand on the spine of 
the book, he felt her fingers resting lightly on his. 

"We did the Renaissance in history/' she said. "I was 
hopeless to begin with." 

"Yes," said Lambert, turning the pages with his right 
hand. 

"I adored Cellini's autobiography," Valerie said. 

"Yes," said Lambert. 

The night was soundless, except for the occasional crackle 

47 



from the fire, and the Foreign Office seemed in his recollec 
tion like a vast store that had shut and was silent. 

"Miss Bolton she was 'history' Miss Bolton was al 
ways talking about the Cinque cento. It was a most frightful 
affectation." 

"Frightful," said Lambert. He looked down at Valerie's 
burning face, her eyes staring fixedly at the pages, and felt 
with the back of his hand her cold fingers. Beyond her 
head, he could see the great carved chimney-piece and her 
father's pipe-rack. Ever since he had known Fergusson, 
when Valerie was still a child, the pipe-rack had been like 
a trade-mark of Fergusson's presence. 

"I think," said Lambert, abruptly closing the book, "it's 
time for bed." 

"Yes," said Valerie. She straightened the creases from 
her dress. 

"Well, good-night," said Lambert. 

"Good-night," said Valerie. 

She looked away from him. 



Ill 



WITHIN THE PRIVATE departure lounge of the airport, 
Brangwyn's staff waited for him to speak. He had risen 
from his green leather arm-chair and, humming ill- 
temperedly to himself, had studied the portrait of the 
Queen, fingered the model of the Boreas, and now peered 
towards the aircraft on the marshalling apron about a 
hundred yards away. The fog that earlier in the day en 
closed the runways had lifted to expose a wintry sun and a 
gauzy view of the buildings on the far side. 

Brangwyn stood with his feet spread on the large squares 
of the chequered floor, and the officials anxiously watching 
his frown waited for him to speak. 

"Perhaps," said Brangwyn, "we might use the occasion 
for a game of chess." 

His staff laughed complaisantly, and Brangwyn joined 
them with a brief, controlled smile before casting a quick 
glance at the murky, fog-smeared fanlight of the low ceiling. 

"You will correct me if I'm wrong," said Brangwyn, "but 
I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the slowest form 
of travel is air travel." 

"I do correct you," his wife said. "You always exaggerate!" 

The four members of the Foreign Secretary's staff com 
posed their faces into neutrality. 

49 



"I don't know why you men are always in such a hurry. 
The plane's only been delayed two hours." 

"Two hours and four minutes," said Padley. 

"Well, what of it?" Mrs. Brangwyn said. "It's given us 
more time for coffee and chat. . . . Darling," she added, 
putting her hand on her husband's arm, "have you got the 
aspirins?" 

"No, dear," he answered. "You've got them in your hand 
bag." 

She opened her suede bag, grabbled inside for a few mo 
ments, and said, "So I have. Do remind me, James, to give 
them to Andrew before you take off. And make sure that he 
has two tonight. . . ." 

"Oh, really, Mary," said the Foreign Secretary. 

"He's so careless about himself," she went on. "And the 
weather is quite awful. Now you won't forget. . . ." 

Brangwyn began to cough, and Vosper, his Private 
Secretary, refilled his cup with coffee. 

"The best . . . thing ... to be said ... for ... 
flying ... on a filthy day like this," he said between his 
spasms, "is that ... in a few hours . . . we'll be ... in 
sunshine. Sunshine!" 

Outside, although it was only half past three, the airfield 
was again wrapped in a thick gloom, uninterrupted except 
for the receding lights along the approach path to the run 
way and the blurred radiance from the waiting aircraft. 

"Any news?" the Foreign Secretary called out to the air 
ways officer who was approaching his table. The officer 
saluted and said, "It's still pretty thick on the other side, 
sir. Three hundred visibility, smoke haze, cloud eight/eight 
at six hundred feet. . . . I'm very sorry, sir." 

Brangwyn tapped the side of the cup with his coffee-spoon, 
and started humming to himself. 

The officer stood awkwardly with his hands at his side, as 

50 



i waiting for instructions* At last, to break the silence, he 
said, "We're taking on more fuel, sir another fifty gal 
lons. . . ." 

"Thank you," said Brangwyn. "Thank you very much. 
When are we likely to get off?" 

"We're hoping, sir, in about half an hour. We think it's 
clearing a bit. . . ." 

"Never heard such nonsense/' said Mrs. Brangwyn. "It's 
getting perceptibly thicker. I think we all ought to go home 
and try again tomorrow." 

The Foreign Secretary looked at her affectionately, and 
she squeezed his hand. 

"I just want to hold on to you another day, sweetie," she 
said. "There ought to be a law against Foreign Secretaries 
leaving their wives behind. . . . And besides, you haven't 
told me about the book-case. . . ." 

"Which book-case?" 

"The one at Telfers. Do you want it or don't you?" 

"My dear Mary . . . this is hardly the time. . . ." 

"Well, when is the time?" she asked angrily. "You're al 
ways too busy. ..." 

Forgotten, the duty officer withdrew, and Vosper en 
gaged the other members of the staff in a diversionary con 
versation while Brangwyn applied himself to settling the 
problem of the book-case. 

In the adjoining lounge, Lambert was answering ques 
tions put to him by the journalists who were waiting for the 
Foreign Secretary. Although it was only half past three, the 
strip lighting was already on, darkening by the contrast 
the airfield where the fog, fluctuating and uncertain, seemed 
to be thickening. 

A fair-haired American in glasses, who scarcely moved his 
lips, said, "Well, what are you hoping to get out of this 



Conference? It seems like the old ones that failed. Same cast, 
different theatre French farce set in Rome/' 

Lambert gave him a friendly smile that compensated for 
his own prejudices. "It's a different play," he said. "And 
this is off the record. . . . We're hoping the French are 
going to be more forthcoming this time. . . ." 

"Why?" the American persisted. 

"Because they don't want to be isolated." 

"You mean as Le Monde Populaire . . ." 

"I don't mean anything of the kind," Lambert answered. 
He was wondering if amiability towards Ulmer was the most 
useful attitude, after all. "We're not responsible for what 
Le Monde Populaire prints. . . ." 

A number of journalists began to speak at the same time, 
but Ulmer's voice overbore them. "Le Monde Populaire" 
he insisted, "has just published exposed what they con 
sider a threat a threat to France blackmail, they call it 
offered to them by Britain. I want to know . . ." 

"What were you saying, Peter?" Lambert said calmly to 
Wilding who, as the senior diplomatic correspondent, am 
bassadorial in dress and manner, had taken the wicker-chair 
in front of the Foreign Secretary's vacant place. 

Wilding said, "I really was on the same point. The French 
reaction to this well, call it whatever you like this dis 
closure . . ." 

"Not disclosure." 

"All right to this alleged disclosure has been surpris 
ing. It has somehow rallied the French in a contrary sense 
to what one might have expected. Would you agree that the 
s tir of Anglophobia and anti- Americanism in France . . . ?" 

Lambert interrupted him. 

"I'm sorry, Peter. All that's a matter of opinion. I can 
only tell you that in my view the French public is more 
solidly with the West today than ever before. It's a good 

5* 



omen for the Conference." 

"Like the weather/' said Ulmer, returning to his in 
quiries in the lull that followed Lambert's reply. "Tell me, 
Mr. Lambert, do you I mean the Foreign Office do you 
think that Communists have had anything to do with the 
leakage?" 

"No," said Lambert. 

"Well, then . . ." Ulmer flung himself on the reply like 
a wrestler whose opponent has stumbled. 

"We do not accept that there has been any leakage," 
Lambert said. 

"But there may be?" 

Lambert didn't answer. 

"We take it there may be ..." Ulmer went on. 

"I'm sorry," said Lambert. "All that's hypothetical. 
There are two Parliamentary questions to the Prime Minis 
ter next week." 

Ulmer leaned back in his arm-chair, and took his cigarette 
from one of the chrysanthemum pots that surrounded the 
room. The cigarette had died in an earthy mould and 
Ulmer threw it on the ground in distaste. 

"But if a fuite had taken place " Wilding ejected the 
French word in the middle of his carefully articulated 
phrase as if to give it a full dramatic value "that really 
would be a grave matter for the Foreign Office. After all a 
Cabinet paper! . . ." He waited for an answer. 

"Could we have a reply?" asked the correspondent of the 
Herald, a former Parliamentary reporter, who brought to 
press conferences the style and technique of the House of 
Commons. 

"I had the impression," Lambert said courteously, "that 
Peter was making a comment." 

"Oh, no," said Wilding. "It was a nonne question ex 
pecting the answer 'yes.' " 

53 



"In that case," said Lambert, "I can give you the answer. 
The leakage of a Cabinet paper even a Foreign Office 
paper to a foreign country . . ." 

"To anyone/' said Wilding. 

"Yes, to anyone . . . would be . . ." 

The journalists waited attentively as Lambert prepared 
the adjective. "It would be not undisturbing. . . . Here's 
the Foreign Secretary." 

The journalists turned their heads to the door, and those 
seated rose, as Brangwyn and Sir James Padley, followed by 
the secretaries, walked towards the vacant arm-chair which 
the airline had set in a bower of greenery to celebrate the 
occasion. Brangwyn, unsmiling, beckoned them to be seated. 
In a slow half-circle, he moved his glance over the corre 
spondents, paused for a second at his wife, who was standing 
in the doorway, continued his survey, and said, "Well, 
gentlemen." 

The lights for the film cameras bloomed like suns, radiant 
and hot, into the Foreign Secretary's face. 

"Too bad the weather," said Ulmer. 

"It's what we expect at this time of the year," said Brang 
wyn. He took out a cigarette, and three of his secretaries 
hurried to light it. 

"I wonder, sir . . ." said the correspondent of Midi-Soir. 

"After all," the Foreign Secretary went on, "it isn't so 
long since our national specialities were thought to be 
spleen and fog." 

"I wonder, sir," said the correspondent of Midi-Soir, "if 
you would say something about the leakage. As you know, 
it's causing some anxiety in France." 

"Anything I said on that subject would be improper 
and that's not for publication. But I will say this " the 
Foreign Secretary leaned forward and pointed with his 
finger towards the French journalist. "Nobody and nothing 

54 



can separate the British and French peoples " he hesitated 
and formed the phrase "who are bound together in in 
dissoluble friendship." 

"They're saying in Paris my office called me half an 
hour ago that you've called the French army a 'two-day 
army/ That's been rankling on the Right as well as on the 
Left. Is that your evaluation?" 

"I'm not responsible for French press reports," Brangwyn 
said bluntly. 

"But they're saying . . ." 

"I'm not concerned with what they're saying. You mustn't 
come to me for an exegesis of the Paris apocrypha." 

During the laughter that followed, Ulmer wiped his 
glasses. 

"But, Mr. Brangwyn . . ." he persisted. 

"He's a menace, that chap," Lambert said in an under 
tone to Padley. "You can count on him to add an anti 
climax to every climax." 

"Mr. Brangwyn," said Ulmer. "I gather the Communists 
in Paris are making some capital out of this document. Can 
we assume whether it was a leak or a piece of fiction that 
the Communists had a hand in it?" 

"I can only give you concrete information," said Brang 
wyn with a deprecating smile. "You must rely for your con 
clusions on your own invention." 

Brangwyn's staff laughed, the correspondents laughed 
and Ulmer threw up his hands. 

The duty officer came and whispered in Vesper's ear. 

"What's that?" said Brangwyn. 

"The captain's compliments, sir," the officer said. "He got 
your message. He says it's clearing a bit but he felt it might 
be better ..." 

"Give the captain my compliments," said Brangwyn, 

55 



"and tell him I feel it might be better if we took off as soon 
as possible." 

"I do wish the Foreign Secretary wouldn't try and boss 
the pilot," said Padley to Lambert. "He'll never learn that 
they always use their own judgment." 

The electric light in the lounge was becoming paler as 
the fog outside thinned again from a yellow-black murk to 
grey. 

"It's drifting," said Lambert. "It shouldn't be long now." 

With half his thought, as if listening to familiar music, 
tired, and, for the first time since Brangwyn had handed 
him the papers, at ease, Lambert listened to the Foreign 
Secretary answering a number of general questions about 
the Rome Conference. During the night that he kept the 
report in his flat, he had sat fully dressed, reading, inter 
mittently touching his breast-pocket for reassurance, de 
termined not to sleep till he had delivered his papers to 
Augier's "stringer." But later the following afternoon, 
though liberated from his responsibilities, he had left the 
Royal Academy still loaded with a burden of anxiety. If 
Brangwyn ordered him to hand the report over, it must be 
right to do so. It wasn't for him to make policy. All he had 
to do was carry it out. His new posting would be a co 
incidence, not a reward. Brangwyn had asked him to do it 
because he thought well of him, because he trusted him, 
because he had authority over him, because he could com 
pel him, because he alone could release him. And Lambert 
remembered the coastal road from St. Tropez to Le 
Lavandou, and Eleanore's staring eyes as she drove through 
the darkness towards the car-headlights that rose and wan 
dered like searchlights over the dips in the hills. 

Because Brangwyn had authority over him, he had agreed. 
And because it was convenient. A Far East posting. And be 
cause it was right. Brangwyn and Padley had both said so. 

56 



It was a deception. But sometimes a deception was nec 
essary. Not a deception a feint, a mode of persuasion. It 
happened every day. The State Department the Quai 
d'Orsay they all did it. The French had done it a thousand 
times. The deceivers would themselves be cuckolded. 

Everything was all right. The report had appeared: the 
uncertainty was over; the rest was Brangwyn's affair. 

Lambert watched the Foreign Secretary, his heavy neck 
spilling in little folds over his white collar, and thought of 
the Fergussons, quiet and remote. He had known Fergus- 
son for nearly fifteen years, and Valerie for three. Fergusson, 
the lordling of obscure places in South America and 
Lichtenstein, Salonika, Porto Rico, Morocco and Spain. He 
had met him, a host or guest, on the fringe of conferences 
when great companies of diplomats or officials arrived for 
international meetings and the consuls helped in the en 
tertainment of the British delegation. Since those days, 
Fergusson had shrivelled. 

But Valerie. She had seen him off at eight that morning, 
handed him an unwanted packet of sandwiches as he 
climbed into his car, and enjoined him to drive carefully. 
He had looked at her young face, and her hands red with the 
morning cold, and said, "See you soon." Then she had run 
ahead of the car to the heavy gate leading to the lane by the 
river and swung it open, and stood laughing and waving to 
him as he drove away. 

"Right-y-o, sir!" said an officer from the doorway. 

"Will all passengers for Flight GWF kindly proceed to 
the aircraft?" a voice came over the loudspeaker. 

In a sudden uprising, pushing on hats, taking up brief 
cases, the Foreign Office officials, with smiles and hand 
shakes, followed Brangwyn and Sir James Padley to the 
swing-doors that were held open by a stewardess. 

57 



"Darling, can I see you right onto the plane?" Mrs. 
Brangwyn asked. 

The Foreign Secretary halted just inside the door, 
through which the fog blew in wisps. 

"No," he said. "It's not encouraged. Didn't you see the 
notice? In any case, it's very cold outside. Why not stay 
here, Mary?" 

"I wanted to give you this," she said, and began to pin a 
small black cat, made of wool, onto his overcoat. 

The photographers' bulbs flashed brilliantly around 
them, and Brangwyn's eyes that had started with tears at his 
wife's gesture, recovered their professional glaze as he 
smiled for the cameras. 

"Once again, ma'am," said a photographer, and Mrs. 
Brangwyn repinned the mascot for a second series of photo 
graphs. 

"Good luck, sir," a journalist shouted. The cry was taken 
up by others, and Brangwyn waved. 

Raising his coat collar, Lambert walked with the Foreign 
Office party along the concrete of the marshalling apron as 
far as the gangway, and waited for Brangwyn to shake hands 
with him. But after a couple of flaccid handshakes to the 
airport commandant, and the chairman of the airways com 
pany, the Foreign Secretary began to cough and hurried 
into the aeroplane. Sir James Padley stayed outside till the 
last moment. 

"I hate the damn things," he said with a gesture to the 
aeroplane. "I stay out of them as long as I can." 

"Time to embark, sir," said an officer. 

"Good-bye, Martin," Padley said. 

"Good-bye, James." 

"You did very well . . ." 

"Thank you/* 

". . . although it didn't quite come off." 

58 



Lambert smiled as he shook hands with Padley. 

"I'm afraid it's kicked back a bit." 

"Don't worry. In ten days' time no one will remember it. 
See you in London." 

"Good-bye." 

"Good-bye." 

Lambert returned to the lounge, glad of its bright 
warmth after the damp of the airfield. 

"Oh, lord, I've forgotten to give Andrew the aspirins," 
Mrs. Brangwyn suddenly complained. "Quick, somebody. 
Is it too late to send them out there? Stewardess ..." 

The aircraft, which had fallen silent after the engines 
had warmed up, began to throb again, and trundled for 
ward towards the runway, till at last it disappeared from 
sight into the thick, discoloured atmosphere. Mrs. Brang 
wyn pressed her face anxiously against the window, her 
suede handbag crumpled between her fingers. 

"It's all right, madam, they'll soon be up," said the re 
ceptionist, who had been leaning forward over Mrs. Brang- 
wyn's shoulders. 

"Of course they'll soon be up," Mrs. Brangwyn said 
sharply. "People who are anxious about aeroplanes 
shouldn't fly." 

"Anything I can get for you, madam?" 

"If I know Andrew," Mrs. Brangwyn said, ignoring her, 
"he'll fall fast asleep, and won't wake up till he gets to 
Rome. What time are you going back to London?" 

"I'm waiting for the fog to clear a bit, and then I'm going 
on to the country," Lambert answered. 

"Well, let's have tea," said Mrs. Brangwyn. "And you 
tell me who wants to be what, who's sleeping with who 
whom and you know, everything. But first of all, tell me 
how Ellen is!" 

"Eleanore!" Lambert said. 

59 



'That's what I said," Mrs. Brangwyn replied. 

Lambert straightened himself, prepared to offer again the 
euphemisms that Mrs. Brangwyn expected to hear as she 
settled herself in the wicker-chair with the safe, expectant 
expression of one about to watch a fight from a comfortable 
seat. Lambert ordered tea, and, in the same tone, said to 
Mrs. Brangwyn: 

"She's drinking less." 

"Drinking?" 

"Yes. I thought you knew. She's been in a nursing home 
near Toulon. ..." 

Mrs. Brangwyn took a file of magazines from the table 
and placed it on her knees. 

"I'm so sorry. ... I didn't know it was as bad as that." 

"Didn't you?" said Lambert. "I thought everyone knew. 
The last time it happened she pushed her fist through 
a thick windowpane. . . ." 

"What a terrible thing to happen. An accident . . ." 

"It wasn't an accident. It was deliberate." 

From the public lounge came the sound of singing. A 
party of French students, men and women who had already 
been fog-bound for ten hours and were stretched out on 
benches or bivouacked on the floor, had begun to sing in 
chorus. Their voices, inharmonious, were an alien impreca 
tion addressed to the wavering fog that had teased them for 
a few moments when the Foreign Secretary's aeroplane had 
taken off but had now descended again, stifling and brown, 
to form smudges on the windowpanes, like the droppings of 
a myriad beetles. 

"What's that noise?" Mrs. Brangwyn asked. The tea she 
was pouring slopped into the saucer. 

"That awful row?" said Lambert. "They're singing 'La 
Bibelotte'it's" 

60 



"No, don't be silly/' said Mrs. Brangwyn. "Listen. Can't 
you hear?" 

Lambert put his biscuit on the plate and listened. 

"I can't hear anything nothing except a ghastly din/' 

Mrs. Brangwyn finished pouring out the tea, and was 
about to raise the cup to her mouth when she stopped and 
said: 

"There it is again. Listen!" 

Punctuating the intervals of singing was the groan of an 
aircraft's engines, rising and falling, fading and returning, 
insistent and plaintive. Lambert and Mrs. Brangwyn 
listened till the sound ebbed away. 

"Somebody's trying to get in, I suppose," said Lambert. 

"It's a horrible sound," said Mrs. Brangwyn. "The sound 
of an aeroplane in the fog ... or at night. It isn't like the 
sound of a train. A train's warm and sheltered even in a 
fog. But a plane . . . Do listen, Martin," she put her hand 
on his arm. "It's back again. It's like a child crying." 

"Don't worry about it," Lambert said. "They've got the 
whole thing absolutely buttoned up. When there's a fog like 
this, they come in by radar." 

With an emphatic, comforting dogmatism, he reassured 
her, and she smiled. 

"I suppose Andrew must be over the Channel by now," 
she said. "He's been gone nearly a quarter of an hour." 

"Bound to be. I wish I were. I'm not looking forward to a 
long drive in this." 

"Everything all right, Mrs. Brangwyn?" said the officer of 
the airline who had attended on the Foreign Secretary. He 
had an easy courtesy that pleased both Lambert and Mrs. 
Brangwyn. 

"Everything's excellent," she said. "So glad the Foreign 
Secretary got away as he did. Frightfully clever of you." 

The officer didn't reply. 

61 



"Do tell me something," she said she put her fingers in 
her ears "I simply can't stand the sound of that plane 
it's as if it's lost. . . ." 

"Oh, no," said the officer calmly. "We never lose planes. 
They're all under control." 

"Well, tell me how they do it." 

She went to the window and raised the edge of the cur 
tain. "I can't see a hand's breadth." 

"It's a bit technical, madam. It's all done by what we call 
G.C.A. ground-controlled approach. You see, say you're 
a pilot . . . There's a fellow the talk-down controller 
who'll talk to you by radio, and tell you your exact position 
in relation to a predestined glide-path." 

"I see," said Mrs. Brangwyn absently. 

Lambert nodded. 

"You've already been picked up by ground radar. . . ." 

"Yes . . ." 

"Then it goes something like this . . . slightly left; very 
slightly left of centre line; on the centre line; on the 
centre. . . ." 

"I see," said Mrs. Brangwyn. "I understand. Thank you 
very much. Can you stop those people?" 

The students were now singing "La Seine" at the top of 
their voices. 

"See if you can do something," said Mrs. Brangwyn. Her 
voice was a dismissal. 

The officer and Lambert moved towards the lounge 
together. 

"What's going on?" Lambert asked the officer. 

"Nothing special," said the officer. "We're having some 
trouble getting the Foreign Secretary's plane in." 

"The Foreign Secretary's plane . . . ?" 

"Yes. They've had to turn back. Trouble with an engine 
possibly two. We've just had a message George Willy 

62 



Fox returning. Port engine out." 

"Is it serious?' 1 

The duty officer hesitated. 

"It isn't, but you can't tell." 

"What about the radar thing you've been talking about?" 

"That's how we're bringing her in. But they've overshot 
once. ... I don't think we can stop those people singing." 

"No." 

"Better not tell Mrs. Brangwyn . . . she looks a bit over 
wrought." 

"No, of course not. . . . I'll go and sit with her." 

Lambert returned to the lounge where Mrs. Brangwyn 
was peering into the darkness over a hedge of artificial 
foliage. 

"Well?" she asked. 

"Nothing very much," he answered. "They're bringing 
a few planes in. I wonder, Mary, if you'd like me to take you 
back to town." 

"No, thanks," she said. "I'm all right." She had returned 
to the table and was folding menu cards into triangles and 
pyramids. 

"It's just that one feels so shut in here. Don't you think so? 
With this fog. And all these frightful flowers. I don't know 
why they do it, Martin. It makes me feel that I'm in a 
crematorium. I expect the organ to begin to play at any 
moment. Have you ever been in a crematorium?" Before 
he could answer, she continued. "It's horrid so mechanical 
and press-button. . . ." 

"Let's have a drink, Mary," Lambert said. "Come on. 
Whisky or Martini?" 

He waited for her decision, but instead she pointed a 
finger to the ceiling and said: 

"No, listen." 

They both looked upwards, attentive to the mutter of an 

63 



aeroplane that grew steadily as the singing in the next 
room dribbled to an exhausted end. And as they waited, the 
sound seemed to become an evenly spaced cadence, de 
clining and contented. 

"It's coming in/' said Lambert. 

Mrs. Brangwyn smiled, a delivered smile. 

"Oh," she said. "I was so frightened/' 

Her upper lip glistened where the light fell on her tilted 
face. 

But suddenly, the dying murmur of the engines changed 
into a great roar that made all the windowpanes of the 
lounge rattle, as the aircraft soared from ground level into 
snarling reluctant flight. 

Lambert left her and hurried through the private door 
to the runways. Two powerful fog lamps glared in his face, 
and he heard the trill of a bell. 

"This way, mate," someone shouted, and the ambulance 
slowly veered away from the entrance to the passenger hall. 

"What's happening?" he asked an officer who appeared 
through the mist. His face became clear for a second in 
the diffused glow from the lounge; it was pallid and a trickle 
of sweat ran along the side of his check. "What's going 
on?" Lambert repeated, but the officer didn't answer and 
disappeared in the direction of the administrative head 
quarters. 

With his hands in his coat pockets, Lambert walked to 
wards the runway, not far from which he could hear voices 
in the darkness, and see the lights of vehicles. He stopped 
at a fire-engine and its crew who were standing by. 

"What's happening?" he asked. No one answered. 

The duty officer came and stood at his side. 

"They'll take her over to Epsom, and back. Or maybe 
they'll make a narrow turn if they pick her up. It's all under 
control." 

64 



Lambert waited in the fringe of light from the lounge. 
He didn't want to return till the aircraft had landed. After 
ten minutes, he heard the sounds of engines. Muffled by the 
fog, they seemed to alternate from north and south, cough 
ing and angry, then changing in tone, drooping and droop 
ing, till the lights came in swelling over the far-off, invisible 
hedges. 

"It's O.K.," said a fireman. 

"Nicely, nicely," said an airfield official. "Very nice in 
deed." 

They heard the aircraft touch down about three hundred 
yards away with a gentle thump. 

"She's done it," said the fireman. 

Within a second the thump changed into a howl, a pro 
longed scream as if the propellers were being dragged along 
the concrete. The plane rose with its engines revving, 
agonising to become airborne, then crashed, its lights ex 
tinguished, in a long trailing skid beyond their sight. 

As Lambert stared into the darkness, silent with the 
others, a flame like the first, joyful signal of a bonfire rose 
from the periphery of the airfield. Blazing in a brief 
illumination, it died, then flared again in a tall column that 
lit the fog-clouds with gigantic, turbulent reflections, 
purple and red and yellow. But even while the ambulances 
and fire-engine with bells ringing began to edge their way 
through the swaddling fog the fires began to fall into little 
flames, designing the shape of the aircraft like fairy lamps. 
Lambert started to follow the red light from the rear of a 
fire-engine. 

"They've bought it," he heard a voice, thick and shocked, 
through the darkness. "All of them. The whole lot. They've 
bought it. They've bought it." 

Lambert stopped, and ran towards the buildings where 
an officer was ordering the passengers who had crowded to 

65 



the doors to remain inside. "Where's Mrs. Brangwyn?" he 
asked. 

"Who are you?" asked the officer. 

"Her brother/' 

The officer jerked his head towards the small lounge. 
"She's in there. They're looking after her." 

Lambert knocked at the door, and went in. A receptionist 
was sitting at Mrs. Brangwyn's side, and holding her wrists. 

"Martin," the Foreign Secretary's wife cried out when 
she saw him, her voice rising to a distraught shriek. "The 
aspirins! Oh my poor darling I didn't give him the 
aspirins!" 



IV 



UNDER THE WHEELS, the ground crackled with frost as Lam 
bert drove his car past the postern-light that had guided him 
for the last two miles through the countryside towards the 
Priory. Valerie opened the door, and ran into the drive to 
greet him. 

"How are you?" she asked. "I was getting so worried." 

Lambert noticed that she was wearing a white blouse and 
a black taffeta skirt, and said, "Go in, quickly. It's freezing." 

She laughed, and answered, "You still treat me like a little 
girl. Have you eaten?" 

He hesitated, and she said, "Of course, you haven't. Do 
come in. Daddy's gone to bed. You know his heart mis 
behaves sometimes." 

"I didn't know," said Lambert, following her into the 
library. The fire, heavily stoked, and the table-lamps blaz 
ing into his eyes after the long drive made him dizzy, and he 
sat in one of the tapestried arm-chairs. 

"I hope it's nothing serious," he said. 

"Oh, no," said Valerie, casually. "Just old age." 

Her face was indifferent as she went to the side-table 
where she had prepared for him a tray of chicken and salad. 

"Daddy asked me to leave out the whisky and soda for 
you." 

"That was kind of him he's very thoughtful." 



"But I wanted to feed you myself." 

After serving him, she sat on a cushion with her arms 
clasped around the neck of a red setter that sprawled across 
her lap. She laid her face against the dog's ear, and said, "I 
almost gave you up at twelve." 

"You see, I had to go back to London first with Mary 
. . . Mrs. Brangwyn. . . ." 

"I'm so sorry. It must have been quite horrible. . . . 
Please have some more of this chicken." 

Remote from her experience. Twenty-two dead. Have 
another drum-stick. 

"No one can feel everything," said Lambert aloud. 

"What did you say?" Valerie asked, bringing him a platter 
of cheese. 

"I was rambling," said Lambert. 

"No," she said. "Tell me what you were thinking." 

"I was thinking," said Lambert, "that you can read in the 
papers of twenty thousand drowned in China eighty-three 
killed in a train disaster in Mozambique hundreds dying 
of cholera in Madras. If you apply your mind to it, you'll 
feel sorry sympathetic. But if someone you love breaks a 
leg, you'll know the difference." 

"Yes," said Valerie. "Do you know, it seems so obvious, 
but I'd never thought of it before." 

"It was like that during the war," Lambert continued. 
"You weren't nearly as worried about who was going to win 
as with whether you were going to get a letter from home 
what the people you liked were doing whether they were 
having a good time whether they remembered you all 
much more immediate and important than a major battle 
ten miles away." 

"Did you hate the war?" Valerie asked. 

"No," said Lambert. "No. I didn't hate it. That's just it. 

68 



I was only in it for three years eighteen months in Italy. 
But when I think back to those years even with all the 
pangs of being away I don't think I've ever been quite as 
happy. It had an easy predestination. You were there and 
that was the end of it. Nothing to be done about it except 
relax and go with the others." 

"And when you came home?" 

He didn't answer, and she came and sat at the foot of his 
arm-chair. The red setter, neglected, wandered idly round 
the room till at last it stretched itself in front of the fire. 

"Tell me," she said, "what did you feel this afternoon? 
The nine o'clock news was so cold and antiseptic. Was it 
absolutely dreadful?" 

"Yes. It was dreadful. Absolutely horrifying." 

"But was it was it like twenty thousand Chinese or was 
it personal?" 

The puckered forehead and her watchful, apologetic eyes 
contradicted the probing insensitivity of her question. 

"It was personal," he said. 

"You're angry with me," she replied. 

"No, not a bit, Valerie. You were perfectly right to ask." 

"I only wanted to know," she said, "because I didn't want 
to think of you being miserable and unhappy." 

"I see," said Lambert. And touched her lightly on the 
cheek. 

"Still upl Still up!" said Fergusson, who had quietly en 
tered the room. He was wearing a wine-coloured dressing 
gown and blue silk pyjamas. "Or should I say 'Still down!' " 
he went on. "At your age, Valerie, I was always in bed by 
midnight. And here you are, gorging yourself at twenty to 
one. I'll have a whisky and soda." 

"Dr. Wilson . . ." Valerie began. 

". . . is incompetent," her father went on. "I'm feeling 

69 



splendid, and a whisky and soda will make me even better. 
To think, Martin, that I should have spawned a teetotal 
generation." 

He threw a small log on the fire and settled himself in 
the arm-chair facing Lambert. 

"I'm sorry about this afternoon, Martin." 

"Yes." 

"What are they going to do at the F.O.?" 

"I don't know. I haven't heard anything." 

They sat silent for a few moments till Fergusson said in 
his slow, hesitant voice, "The B.B.C. said there was one 
survivor." 

"Padley it's quite hopeless. He was unconscious when 
I left the hospital. He's got a fractured skull and burns. He's 
dying." 

"Pity," said Fergusson. "Great pity. He was excellent, I 
always thought. And now they've made that pipsqueak 
Baggott Acting Permanent Under-Secretary. Can you im 
agine it? Baggott!" 

Lambert looked up quickly. 

"How do you know all this?" 

"The wireless, my dear boy. Extraordinary invention! 
But Baggott that tuft-hunter. . . . I'm sorry, Martin. I'm 
afraid I've put my foot in it again. The trouble with you 
is that you're so loyal to your acquaintances. Perhaps he's 
an old friend of yours?" 

"No, indeed not. Baggott's an old enemy of mine. He 
once tried to push me out of the Foreign Service. Padley 
stopped him." 

"I shouldn't worry about that," said Fergusson. "As 
long as you stick to the book and only tread on the faces 
below you, you can be sure of a dazzling career. Actually, 
I've decided to devote my decline to a study of orthodoxy 
in politics." 

70 



"How much have you written?" Lambert asked. 

"So far, only the title which I like very much: 'Ortho 
doxy, Paradox and Heresy/ " 

On the other side of Lambert, Valerie altered the position 
of her cushion and leaned her face against the arm of his 
chair, while he himself lay back in weariness, listening to 
Fergusson's ponderous description of his book. Between the 
curtains was the clear night sky and the hard starlight. 
Impossible even to visualise the fog that earlier that evening 
an east wind had blown away. In this safe room, with its 
comfortable voices, Lambert was far from the airfield and 
its silences. The silence after the aeroplane crashed. The 
silence of the passengers when the first ambulance drove 
back. The silence when he himself left with his half-sister. 
The silence offensively broken by the hiccuping sobs of 
a woman onlooker. 

Now it was all over. And all that remained was weari 
ness; neither shock, nor horror, nor even grief. Tomorrow 
he would think of Padley. Tomorrow he would remember 
and mourn him. And Brangwyn. Tomorrow. Brangwyn 
heavy, finger-pointing, oppressive. That was all over. 
Brangwyn no longer weighed on his spirit. There was no 
purpose in pretending. He felt relief. 

"I begin with the paradox " said Fergusson, "a paradox 
in an age that reserves its admiration for the nonconformist 
that the heretic isn't always right. In fact, my theme is 
that today's heretic may well be tomorrow's fathead." 

'Til give you four examples of yesterday's heresies that 
are today's orthodoxies," said Lambert in order to assure 
Fergusson of his interest. Wondering how soon he could 
politely go to bed, he lay back again in his chair, with 
his arms drooping at the side. 

"Tell me one a heresy of faith/' said Fergusson. 



"Very well a classic example the possibility of the 
antipodes . . ." 

"I'm not concerned with that," said Fergusson. "I'm 
thinking of the Nestorians, the Monophysites, and the 
Monomelites. What's happened to them? They've gone 
all of them defeated by the stream of an irresistible ortho 
doxy. There's no sign in religious belief that the antithesis 
produces a synthesis. A heresy inside a faith must either 
destroy it or die itself. That's the weakness of Hegel. He 
never could understand the true nature and strength of 
orthodoxy. He mixed it up with a bogus conformity. He's 
the chief corrupter of Europe." 

Valerie shut her eyes as her father's voice grew more 
wakeful. 

"But orthodoxy/' said Lambert, "is merely a stage in a 
developing process. There's never been a system of dogma 
that you can't trace historically to some heresy. Orthodoxy 
is merely the point where the system temporarily freezes." 

He altered his position, and his hand touched Valerie's 
fingers at the far side of the chair. She made no motion, 
her head lay drowsily on the padded tapestry, and Lambert 
looked quickly down at her fair hair opening slightly at 
the nape of her neck. The tips of his fingers touched the 
crook of her forefinger, but she didn't withdraw her hand. 

"That's a bad metaphor," said Fergusson. "Orthodoxy 
isn't static it isn't frozen. It's more like a main stream 
moving in a determined direction. The heresy is the devia 
tion, the self-indulgent the private departure. I give noth 
ing for your rebels." 

Lambert extended his finger, and he felt Valerie's hand 
open and close around it, tentatively at first, then firmly and 
in assurance. * 

"You agree with Brangwyn?" 

"With Brangwyn with Brangwyn," Fergusson said 

72 



thoughtfully. "No. Brangwyn was never a genuine con 
servative. The orthodoxy of British conservatism comes 
from Greece and Rome and Nazareth. Brangwyn was a 
heretic. He despised the Mediterranean, and fiddled with 
the German philosophers." 

Their hands moved like a conversation. He opened her 
fingers till her palm was wide and moist, and enfolded 
them, with his palm pressed against hers, in his own. Their 
fingers withdrew, explored each other lightly, and returned 
in a clasp, firm and tense. 

"I'm sorry about Brangwyn," said Fergusson. "I wish, 
though, he could have left more quietly. Mind you, he's 
had one bit of luck." 

"What's that?" asked Lambert. 

"He won't have to explain away the leakage." 

"No." 

"There's no point in shooting a dead duck." 

Lambert looked at Fergusson with distaste. From the 
neck of his dressing gown sprouted a tuft of white hair, 
and Lambert's glance fastened on it with revulsion. 

"I imagine the whole thing's over now." 

"Very likely!" said Fergusson. "You never can tell though 
how the P.M. will deal with a thing like this. . . ." 

"Why the P.M.?" 

"Well, I assume hell look after the Foreign Office till 
there's a new appointment. It's traditional. And besides, 
he's got every reason to do so." 

"You mean Brandon and Macpherson?" 

"That's one reason. It's always a grevious problem when 
you have two Ministers both putative Foreign Secretar 
ies who think they ought to be marked up to Number 
Two. . . ." 

"I'd be delighted," said Lambert, "if the P.M. took over 
the F.O. and kept it." 

73 



"I'm not so sure/' said Fergusson. "Prime Ministers 
usually make bad Foreign Secretaries. Anyhow, I'm tired 
of diplomacy by inspiration. Brangwyn gave us too much 
of it. And if now it's going to be festooned with the P.M.'s 
dramatics!" 

He waved his hands in deprecation and looked down at 
his daughter. "Poor Valerie! Fast asleep. Fast asleep. These 
young people . . ." 

Behind the screen of the arm-chair she had taken Lam 
bert's hand in hers, held it for a second with an access of 
pressure against her blouse, and then released it. 

Fergusson tinkled his glass against the siphon, and Valerie 
raised her face, one side of it flushed, the other pale, and 
blinked at her father. 

"Come on, Valerie," he said. "Time for bed." 

In his familiarly brusque manner, he rose, wound the 
clock on the chimney-piece, and said, "Night!" to Lambert 
who had risen as well. 

When Fergusson had gone, Lambert walked to the table 
by the chair and took a cigarette. Valerie still sat on the 
cushion near the fire, without looking at him. 

"I think I'd better be getting to bed," said Lambert. 
Then he went over to her and helped her to her feet. She 
stood in front of him without speaking, and without meet 
ing his eyes. He put his hand on the side of her hair and 
raised her face. She looked at his eyes, and away again. 

"Shall we go for a long walk tomorrow?" he asked. 

"That would be very nice," she answered. 

They heard the returning footsteps of her father, and 
drew apart from each other. Fergusson pushed the door 
open, and Lambert leaned against the fireplace. 

"Why don't you go to bed, Valerie?" Fergusson asked 
sharply. 

The dog, sleepily stirring its tail, came and licked his 

74 



ankles, but Fergusson kneed it aside. "Off you go, Fausto," 
he said, and the setter, intimidated by the jussive tone, 
trotted lugubriously through the open door. 

"Well, Valerie?" 

"I was just going, Father/' she answered. "I was going to 
turn off the lights." 

"I'll do that," said Fergusson. Like a horse changing foot 
in mid- trot, he hesitated, and changed his tone. "Oh, Mar 
tin, I forgot to tell you: there was a call for you this evening 
from somebody called Barraclough." 

"Barraclough?" 

"Yes, Colonel Barraclough. He wanted you to ring him 
tomorrow morning at the War Office." 

"Barraclough!" Lambert repeated. "Don't know him." 

They both watched Valerie as she turned off the switches 
by the door, leaving the room in shadow except for a wreath 
of light from a table-lamp between the two men. 

"Good-night," she said. "And don't settle down again, 
Daddy." 

When she had closed the door behind her, Fergusson said 
to Lambert, "She's a nice child." 

"Very," said Lambert. "Very nice." 

"But I'm worried about her doesn't make any friends. 
You see, I've rather discouraged the local stockbrokery." 

"I shouldn't worry about that," said Lambert. "After all, 
she's going to Oxford next year. She'll have dozens of 
friends." 

"She's very retiring, you know. Very timid. I wanted her 
to go up this year," Fergusson spoke the words as if they- were 
a defiance, and added, "She insisted on spending it here." 

"It won't harm her," said Lambert. "She'll probably do a 
lot of reading and I suppose she knows at least some of 
your neighbours." 

"I don't like them." 

75 



Lambert laughed. "Well/* he said, "you probably have 
friends down from London." 

"I haven't any friends in London. None that I've kept. 
Ask me about my acquaintances on the Costa Brava in 
Famagusta Rabat Corinth I'll give you a list as long 
as your arm. . . . London's different. I can't think of six 
people in London whom I'd want to ask to dinner." 

Lambert, who had begun to laugh again, stopped as he 
saw that Fergusson's expression had fallen into a fold of 
solemnity. 

"I'm very worried about Valerie," said Fergusson. He 
stubbed an ember back onto the fire with his slipper. "It's 
difficult for her without her mother. And it's very lonely for 
her here. You can understand it can't you, Martin?" 

"Yes," said Lambert. "But it's only temporary. In a year 
or two you'll scarcely recognise her, just as I find it hard to 
see in her the schoolgirl I met only two or three years ago." 

"I was wondering," said Fergusson. "Advise me I was 
wondering if I shouldn't send her for six months to France. 
Do you know some good family not in Paris I think 
somewhere in the provinces not in the South in Bor 
deaux or somewhere like that?" 

"I don't know offhand," said Lambert. "But I'll have a 
word next week with someone in the Department who deals 
with France." 

"What perplexities!" said Fergusson, stretching himself. 
"It's bad enough to be an only child! But to be an only 
parent!" 

"Have you thought of marrying again?" asked Lambert. 

"Yes," said Fergusson. "I am old, ugly and of limited 
means. The desperate woman who might want to marry me 
is quite definitely not the woman I would want to marry my 
self. Besides, all that is nothing to me any more. I've escaped 
from the beast. All that concerns me now is Valerie. She is 
the last and best thing I have." 

76 



In the blackness of an unfamiliar room, Lambert awoke a 
few hours later and began to grope, panic-stricken, for the 
electric switch. A nightmare, shapeless and oppressive, had 
wrenched him, with his heart toiling, from a restless sleep. 
He felt for the light along the cold painted surface of the 
wall, and failing, subsided for a moment into a half-dream 
of a place that had walls and no door; and then, awake, he 
lay panting in the dark, his chest and back trickling with 
sweat. Like the frame of a silver-grey aquarelle, the window, 
with its drawn curtains, exposed in front of him the sky 
lightened by the rising moon behind the house. He listened 
to the tolling, the dull, steady thud of his heart-beat in his 
ear, till the window, now clearly defined, became precise 
and led his thought from the dream into waking. 

He awoke with the name "Barraclough" in his mind. 
Barraclough. Barraclough. The name had a rhythm like 
his heart-beat. 

A Elsa, chaque battement de mon coeur. 

To Eleanore, each beat of my heart. He had sent her a 
book of poems from Italy in 1944. Each heart-beat. And, 
years later in France, he had found it abandoned under a 
pile of magazines Elle, Lui et Moi 3 Nous Deux that was 
the sort of magazine she liked. 

He resolved not to think of Barraclough not of Barra 
clough nor of the airport nor of the fire and the stench of 
burning petrol, mingled with fog, that persisted like a con 
tamination in his nostrils. 

Valerie was somewhere in the house, young and asleep. 
And Fergusson, watchful and disappointed, in his large and 
comfortless bed, would rise tomorrow with his burden of 
grievance and pessimism and defeat. 

Lambert turned his pillow over, and remembered 
Valerie's hand, warm and articulate in his, a confidence, a 
secret communication. A secret communication. 

He switched on his bedside lamp. Now he knew who 

77 



Barraclough was. He had met him three months ago on a 
Foreign Office committee which had been attended by 
representatives of the War Office. A picture of the oval table 
had come into his brain with Barraclough sitting at the far 
end near the door next to Gorse-Jones. He had only spoken 
two words. Brangwyn had asked if the Conference arrange 
ments had been cleared with War Office Security. And 
Barraclough had answered, "Yes, sir." 

Barraclough. Colonel Barraclough. 

Lambert got out of bed, put on his slippers and a dressing- 
gown, and lit a cigarette. Obviously there would be ques 
tions in the House about it, and the Prime Minister would 
have to answer. The Department would normally have 
dealt with the P.Q.; normally, Padley would have drafted 
the reply. With Brangwyn. But this wasn't merely a depart 
mental matter. It was a leak. A British Cabinet paper had 
been published in the French press. It was strange very 
strange that he himself already knew everything that the 
Prime Minister and the War Office Barraclough would 
now seek by every means of inquiry to discover, and yet he 
felt as if he were a stranger to it all, an observer of incidents 
in which he had no part, remembering those who acted in 
them as if they were characters in a play that has ended its 
run. The thought of meeting Barraclough gave him a vague 
uneasiness. Repudiated, it returned, insistently, till he 
decided that he would telephone him immediately after 
breakfast. He would listen to what he had to say. Then he 
would know how much to tell him. He would say nothing 
about the meeting with Brangwyn and Padley at the 
Foreign Office. That was the understanding. Nothing about 
Augier. Nothing. He'd given his word to Brangwyn. And 
Brangwyn was dead. And to Padley. And Padley was dying. 
The dead and the dying. No one knew about it but himself. 
No one, anywhere. 

78 



The sweat between his shoulder-blades had dried, and 
tranquilly he finished his cigarette, turned off the light and 
went back to bed. Lying in the darkness he thought of 
Barraclough and the Brangwyn Report. There was no get 
ting away from it to deliver a Foreign Office paper to a 
foreign country even to an ally was treason, a betrayal. 
Curious. He had been asked, by Brangwyn, as a patriotic 
duty to perform an act of treason. And he had done it. Like 
a spy. With the tricks and furtiveness of a spy. 

Now Brangwyn was dead. And Padley was dying. No one 
now could tell how he had come to give a departmental re 
port to a French newspaper. None except himself. That was 
all there was to it. 

And if Barraclough questioned him, he would say he 
knew nothing. Barraclough could go and ask Brangwyn or 
Padley. They were the only two, apart from himself, who 
knew everything. The only two who could vouch for him; 
the only two who could exculpate him. The dead and the 
dying. 

Lambert moved his hand to switch on the light, but in 
stead lay back and thought of Brangwyn and Padley. They 
were the only two who could vouch for him; the only two 
who could exculpate him; the only two who knew why 
he had given the report to Le Monde Populaire. The dead 
and the dying. 



V 



"Is IT POSSIBLE/' Valerie wrote in her diary a thick ex 
ercise book with stiff, black covers rubbed by nearly a year's 
daily handling "Is it possible," she began, remembering 
the garden in summer, the sprig of wistaria plucked from 
the bush and above all the warm dry hand, enclosing hers 
and making it secure the autumn sun that yellowed the 
fields and striped the woods a reddish brown shone through 
the small square panes of her window with a faint warmth 
on her forehead. "Is it possible to love someone" she 
wrote and calculated and shrank from the statistic "sev 
eral years older than oneself?" 

It was very puzzling. Her father, exhausted by a night of 
insomnia because she had forgotten to collect his sleeping 
pills from Dr. Wilson the day before, had decided to stay 
in bed, and she had walked with Lambert for two hours 
along the canal path and through Deason's Wood to Mer- 
chison. All the time he had talked to her about Trollope's 
novels, her school and whether a history or classics degree 
was more useful for practical purposes. But nothing, 
nothing, absolutely nothing about what had happened. It 
was as if he hadn't noticed, or had forgotten, that she had 
sat at his side and that he had taken her hand and she his; 
as if their palms had never clasped each other in the slow 
rotation that sent a poignant, secret pleasure into her breasts 
and through all her body. 

80 



She put down her pen, and lay on the chintz-covered bed 
with her face in the pillow to recall it. The pleasure was 
strange and private, and welled and descended. She shut her 
eyes and clasped and unclasped her hands, thinking of his 
fingers enfolding hers with their dry warmth and strength. 

After he gave her the wistaria, she had thought of their 
walk in the garden for many months, asking herself con 
stantly why he had given it to her. The question used to 
come into her mind at all sorts of odd times. During prep. 
In the Coffee Club when everybody was babbling away and 
she was sitting apart from the others in the chair by the 
door, and, unexpectedly, Miss Fretts had asked in her con 
tralto voice, "Worried about your Scarlatti?" because she 
was due to play a sonata in the school concert, but actually, 
she was thinking of the wistaria and of Lambert a sensa 
tion, rather than a thought and she said, "Yes no," and 
everyone stopped talking and laughed. And sometimes after 
dinner when her father had fallen into one of his morose 
silences. But it was best of all at night before she fell asleep. 
Then, flat on her stomach, she would go over the events of 
that afternoon in their sequence, always starting with the 
surprising moment when he asked her to walk in the 
garden. 

When she saw his name in newspapers or when she heard 
her father mention it in passing, trying as she heard it to 
look casual, it was the image of the walk in the garden that 
shone on the screen of her mind and his farewell smile that 
touched her throat. 

She had gone back to her room, and watched his car 
turn below the hill onto the road. And afterwards she had 
sat weeping for half an hour in front of the looking-glass 
till her face was blotched and red, and her nose swollen with 
a catarrhal flow so that her father made her go to bed as she 
had a cold. 

81 



But the memory of his hands was a different memory, not 
in her eyes, nor in her brain nor her throat. It was in the 
dark of her pillow where there was no thought, no faces, 
no people, no places; unrelated to time or incident; the 
memory of the mysterious convulsions of their hands stirred 
in her breasts and thighs as they pressed against the bed, a 
pleasure that grew and trembled and made her want to 
burst into tears and dissolve in the secure darkness. 

Valerie turned the pillow over to cool her face, and then 
raised herself to examine her appearance in the mirror. 

Horrible!" she said aloud, dabbed her cheeks with a 
powder-puff so that white dust lay over the persistent flush, 
and hurried down the staircase to where Lambert was 
awaiting her. 

"Would you like to climb up to Gavin's Leap?" she asked 
him. "It's about four hundred feet. We could easily get up 
and back before dark if you're not too tired and if you 
don't mind climbing." 

"I'm not too tired, and I'm an excellent climber," he 
answered stiffly. "I climbed the Mottarone last summer." 

"There," Valerie said, "I've hurt your feelings. I'm so 
sorry. Where is the Mottarone? I'm terribly ignorant." 

"In Italy. I spent a week there before I went on to 
Cavalaire." 

"How wonderful to travel," she said, guiding him to the 
footpath that led to the hill. "I've always longed to go to 
Italy." 

"I thought you liked it here." 

"I do. But I want to go away all the same. You don't know 
what it's like to hear a name like like . . ." 

"Like Perugia . . ." 

"Yes, Perugia. It's like hearing an orchestra warming up. 
You hear all sorts of tiny little ripples and squiggles going 
up and down you. But you couldn't possibly understand. 

82 



You're always travelling to somewhere wonderful. It's com 
monplace for you. Does Eleanore like travelling?" 

"She used to. She doesn't much now." 

"Did she climb with you?" 

"No. She stayed in Cavalaire she had lots of friends 
there and she's keen on swimming." 

"Oh, but I like swimming too ... I'd never have let 
you go climbing without me." 

Careless and energetic, she was walking slightly ahead of 
him with her hair blowing in the afternoon breeze. 

"I adore climbing," she went on. "Whenever I see monu 
ments and churches and mountains, I always want to climb 
to the top of them." 

"What a singular passion!" said Lambert. 

"Is it?" she asked. "It seems terribly normal to me. I just 
want to look down on miles and miles of countryside and 
clasp it. Has Eleanore ever climbed?" 

"Yes. . . . She used to like it. We climbed a bit in 
America. But when we came back to Europe, she became 
interested in other things." 

"I see," said Valerie, and they walked through the birch- 
wood at the bottom of the hill in silence. 

But in his mind as they walked was the memory of the 
early afternoon in the summer when he returned from Italy, 
driving in low gear up the steep dusty road that led from 
the Route Nationale to the hotel. Eleanore heard the car 
from the window and came to meet him. 

"Hello, darling," she said. "Did you have a lovely time?" 

"Yes," he answered. "I missed you." 

She was standing under the bougainvillaea by the flight of 
steps, her skin browner against the primrose jacket than 
when he had left. 

"How have you been?" he asked, taking her arm. 

83 



1 'Good!" she answered. 

"How good?" 

"Very good. I lay on the beach and sunbathed bathed a 
few times and waited for you to come back. It's been 
madly hot. " 

She took his arm, and they walked together in rhythm, 
their sandals clacking on the stone stairs to their bedroom. 

He kissed her neck and said, "Come and talk to me while 
I have a shower." 

"No, darling," she said. "I like talking to you from here." 

She took off her bolero jacket and skirt and lay on the bed 
with her legs crossed and propped herself against the 
pillows. 

"Did you see any of the crowd from the Aioli?" he asked 
through the hiss of the shower. 

"They came over once or twice," she answered. "Benghi 
and Simon the Courcins the two French girls Marjorie 
and that frightful husband of hers. . . . But it's been so 
sweltering. Much too hot to move." 

She was fanning herself with a copy of Le Provengal. 

"How nice and brown you look," she said when he came 
into the room with a towel over his shoulders. "And so 
cool! You haven't dried your back. . . ." 

"Did you go over there too?" he asked, sitting on the bed. 

As she dried his shoulders, he looked over the cork trees 
to the sea, glittering in the afternoon sunlight. In the shade 
. of a tamarisk, a nursemaid by the side of a sleeping child was 
languidly knitting; but otherwise, the hotel and the ter 
races and the serpentine road to the sea were drowsy, as if a 
huge bee were mumbling a subdued accompaniment to the 
interminable chirp of the cicadas. 

"I'm so glad you're back," said Eleanore. "So glad, Mar 
tin. I get frightened when you're away. . . ." 

"Frightened of what?" 

84 



She had stopped drying his shoulders, and passed her 
fingers around his waist and pressed her face into his back. 

"I don't know/' she said. "I'm just frightened. I want you 
to come back, and reassure me." 

He twisted around and watched her face, timid and ex 
pectant, and kissed her soft, absorbing mouth that opened 
and enclosed his. 

"I love you very much," she said. "Lock the door, Martin. 
The chambermaid does the room in the afternoon." 

Her eyes were wide and alert, watching him, and he drew 
away from her. 

"Don't look at me like that," she said. "Come back, my 
darling." 

He pressed the latch of the door, and when he returned 
to her, she drew him above her, her arms clasped around his 
shoulders, her eyes shut tightly with a small intense frown 
between them. 

Afterwards, they had dressed, and driven to the beach for 
a bathe. Andre Courcin, an industrialist, and his wife, 
Solange, whom he had known when he worked in Paris, the 
American honeymoon couple who had the next umbrella, 
and Lindfors, the economist from Geneva, were already 
there. They greeted Lambert clamorously, and towards five 
o'clock, Courcin suggested that they might take pedal-boats 
a few hundred yards out and swim underwater. 

"Not for me, dear," said Madame Courcin. "I will walk 
along the beach with Mitou." 

She assembled her beach-bag, the Balenciaga cape that 
went with her check costume, her medallion necklace, her 
two bracelets and Mitou, the dog, who in a spatter of sand 
struggled to escape from her grip. Once Madame Courcin's 
hands were fully occupied, she decided to wear her straw 
sunhat. The men stood around, offering gestures of help, 

85 



declined by Madame Courcin in a recitative of her inten 
tions. At last, she shook hands with everyone, put on her hat, 
slipped the lead on Mitou's collar and, with pauses and ex 
hortations to the reluctant dog that reached them long 
after she had disappeared behind the coloured umbrellas, 
began her promenade. 

"She's gone," said Courcin. "Now we can have sport." 

He was a tall, sunburnt man in early middle-age, power 
ful, abrupt and imperative. He rarely spoke to his wife, and 
when she said anything with which he disagreed, would 
laugh quietly to himself, a domesticated laugh that some 
times escaped through his teeth. 

"Come on, Lambert," he said. "You and I will pedal. 
Madame Lambert will sit in the back. And we'll take it in 
turn to watch the boat." 

"Oh, no," said Eleanore. "I'm much too tired. You two 
go." 

"Impossible," said Courcin in his loud, gusty voice. "It is 
essential for one to guard the boat." 

"You go, Per," Eleanore said to Lindfors. 

He picked up a handful of sand, and let it dribble be 
tween his fingers. "I wouldn't dream of usurping your 
place," he said. 

"What about you, Marian?" she said to the American girl 
who lay holding her husband's hand. 

"Sorry," she said lazily. "I only pedal with my husband." 

"Come on, Eleanore," said Lambert. "Courcin can hold 
the boat while we swim." 

The others watched the three of them walk to the pedal- 
boat, and Lindfors said, "She's a very beautiful woman." 

"Lovely!" said the American. And his wife flung his hand 
aside and turned her back. 

Paddling the boat as it rose and fell lightly on the waves 

86 



at the horn of the bay, Lambert listened contentedly to the 
hum of voices from the beach, broken sometimes by the 
screams from the raft nearly fifty yards away where the 
bathers clustered till it toppled in a half-swoon. The sun 
lay with a steady warmth on his back and diamonded the 
sea all around with its fragmented light. Eleanore swam 
idly around the pedal-boat, turning from time to time to 
drift with her face to the sun, while Courcin, be-goggled 
and wearing a breathing apparatus, kept disappearing in 
prolonged, submarine journeys from which he emerged 
at last, panting and mysterious. 

"Come, Eleanore," he said as they both clung to the boat. 
'Tut on your goggles, and I'll show you a forest of algae." 

"No, thank you," she answered. "I'm going to sunbathe." 

"Oh, please," he persuaded her. "A short journey ; 
you'll be surprised. They're pink and purple and dark 
green. Look down." 

Eleanore took the glasses from the float and, after swim 
ming a few strokes, dived with Courcin away from the 
shore. Lambert waited for them to reappear, and leaned 
over the side and peered into the clear waters made trans 
lucent to their depths by the sunlight. But the water where 
he looked for Eleanore's white cap was unbroken. After a 
minute and a half, he dived in, swimming in deeper circles, 
blinking his eyes into the dagger-like crystals of the waves. 
He rose again and scanned the water anxiously, looking at 
the blank horizon and from there to the shouting, indif 
ferent children nearer the shore. In a sudden panic, he dived 
again. 

"Mar-tin!" 

He heard Eleanore's voice from the raft, as the water 
came bubbling over his ears. 

"Yoo-hoo!" 

She was standing next to Courcin, who, leaning against 



the diving board, waved cheerfully towards him. She dived 
off the side, and swam in a powerful, threshing crawl to 
wards the pedal-boat, while Courcin, in his goggles and 
breathing apparatus, plunged underwater and only rose 
with dripping hair when he was close to the float. 

"It was wonderful," Eleanore said as Lambert helped her 
up. "Wonderfull" 

Her eyes were lit with radiant achievement as she pulled 
off her cap. 

"We went right down almost to the sea-bed. It's extraor 
dinary what you see there. The colours!" 

"I didn't know what had happened to you," said Lambert. 
"I thought . . ." 

"Oh, my darling! I was perfectly all right. It's beautifully 
clear." She kissed his cheek in excitement. "Let's go to 
Porquerolles tomorrow. Andre says it's wonderful swim 
ming underwater by the rocks." 

Courcin rolled over in the water in two somersaults, and 
heaved himself onto the back of the float. 

"The best underwater swimming is by the rocks," he said. 
"The molluscs are very interesting. You two paddle. I'm 
tired." 

"You're lazy," said Eleanore. "That's why you're getting 
so fat." 

"I am not fat/' said Courcin, with his arms behind his 
head. "I am a muscular man relaxing." 

He shut his eyes and sang "Tiens-toi plus pres de moi" at 
the top of his voice, as Lambert and Eleanore paddled the 
boat towards the shore, and Eleanore, holding her husband's 
naked, sun- warmed arms in hers, said, "Martin, it's been 
such a wonderful afternoon. Let's always be like this!" 

After they had dressed in their beach clothes, Eleanore 
in her shorts and yellow jacket, they had gone for drinks to 
the Abri. A waiter rolled back the green-striped awning, and 



on the terrace, high above the sea, watching the yachts 
returning into the small harbour, they drank Cinzano and 
Pernod, and listened to Courcin's stories of his life in North 
Africa. 

"In the desert," he said, "I could drink anything any 
thing at all. I could drink water from the wells where the 
camels had been wallowing. But nothing! I was never ill 
with fever from drinking. . . ." 

He threw his arms around the back of his wrought-iron 
chair, and said, "I was once bitten by a sand-crab. Nothing!" 

His shirt fell open over his dark brown, barrel-shaped 
chest. "I was lost with prospectors for four days. . . ." 

"I know," said Eleanore. "But nothing!" 

She was sitting next to Courcin opposite Lambert, and a 
slow accomplice smile passed between their eyes. She had 
drunk two glasses of Pernod, but she was quite calm and her 
look was tranquil. 

"All right," said Courcin, addressing himself to Lambert. 
"I will tell you about the time " 

Lambert put up his hand. 

"Tomorrow, Andr. We've got to get back. We've a long 
drive." 

"Yes," said Eleanore, her elbows on the table, her face 
gentle with the ease of their companionship. 

Lambert had put his jacket on the white gravel under 
neath his chair, and bent to pick it up. In the moment that 
he did so, he saw among the sandals beneath the table one 
of his wife's feet with her incarnadined nails pressed slen 
derly against the white bar at the base, while her other leg 
hung dependent over Courcin's knee, their bare thighs 
mingled, her flesh golden against his black hair. 

"We must swim again tomorrow," said Courcin, stretch 
ing both arms behind his head. "Tomorrow, Eleanore, I'll 
take Martin to the submarine caves. Underwater's for mer- 



maids, not for women. What do you say, Martin?" 

Eleanore opened her mouth to speak, but her glance met 
her husband's and the expression in her eyes changed. 

"I think we'd better go, Eleanore," said Lambert. He put 
on his jacket, turned away from Courcin, shook hands with 
the three Frenchmen and Madame Courcin, and walked 
quickly, with Eleanore hurrying ahead of him, to their car. 
She got into the driving seat, and reversed angrily into an 
earthenware pitcher full of geraniums, ignored the moni 
tory shouts of the waiters, and drove off, fast, downhill 
towards the coastal road. 

At the first sharp bend, overhung by rocks, she pressed 
her brakes hard till they squealed in the skid, eased the 
pressure as she swung the steering wheel hard to avoid an 
oncoming Citroen, then accelerated for a hundred yards of 
straight descent, overtaking a lorry on a curve with the 
outer wheel grumbling on the edge of the cliff. 

"You'll kill yourself," said Lambert. 

"I don't care," she answered, urging the car towards the 
mauve sky and the invisible corniche at the foot of the 
silhouetted hills. Her eyes were staring into the dusk, 
angry and aggrieved. 

"You behaved abominably." 

"I did?" 

"Yes you did. You insulted Andr< after he behaved so 
beautifully towards us." 

Lambert didn't answer. His wife was driving now at over 
sixty miles an hour, and in the night that had suddenly 
fallen, the headlamps of the cars dipping and surging over 
the coastal road, wandered in the sky like searchlights. 

"It's no good, Eleanore," he said at last. "What" he 
stopped with a sense of humiliation, and started again, 
"What's going on between you and Courcin?" 

"You're mad!" she answered. "Mad. Stark staring mad. 

90 



Whatever makes you think there's anything between Andre 
and me?" 

"Do you want to know in detail?" 

"Yes." Her mouth was determined, and she accelerated 
again as he began to speak. 

"In that case, I'll tell you." 

Anger replaced humiliation. The tangle of flesh twisted 
in his viscera. 

"This afternoon I thought for a few hours that we 
could begin again. I thought it when we lay on the bed. . . . 
I thought it when we were swimming. . . . And I thought 
it when you smiled to me across the table. I thought it till 
I picked my coat up from the ground. , . . Oh, what's the 
use of talking about it. . . ." 

"I want you to talk about it. Go on. Say it. . . ." 

"You were smiling to me and all the time . . . you and 
Courcin . . ." 

"You're mad," she replied. "There's never been anything 
between Andre and me. Never , . ." 

"I saw, myself . . ." 

"You saw nothing. ..." 

She pulled the car wildly around a bend and again the 
speedometer rose towards sixty miles an hour. 

Near Agay they reached a long line of cars drawn up 
silently and patiently in the darkness. Eleanore sounded 
her horn loudly and impatiently at the vehicles, immobile 
like a cortege that has paused. After a few minutes, Eleanore 
swung the car out, and flashing its lights, edged her way, 
despite the angry complaints of other drivers, in a second 
file towards a gendarme who was directing the traffic. 

"Stop!" he said, waving his torch. 

Behind him were three other gendarmes taking measure 
ments in the roadway, watched by silent campers and travel 
lers who had pulled their cars up. In the headlights, a corpse 

9 1 



drained of blood lay in the centre of a great, dark stain. 

"Pass," said the gendarme, beckoning her into a narrow 
lane of traffic that had begun to move. 

"Please, Martin you drive," Eleanore said. "I don't feel 
well." 

He changed places with her and drove with the stream of 
vehicles till they had spaced themselves out, carefully, 
watchfully, in the direction of Le Lavandou. 

"I think it was a dead cow," Eleanore said. 

"Yes," Lambert answered. "It was a dead cow." 

The pale corpse in rubber shoes, which had begun the 
day with hope, lay on a sandy road, naked and peered at by 
holiday-makers who were hurrying to their dinner. And 
all its purposes and intentions and projects, started with 
expectation and love, lay sprawled in its indecent end 
the passions and the resentments, the angers and the 
pleasures, all the day's ambitions concluded in the dusk. 

"Oh, Martin," said Eleanore, "why do we quarrel? All 
the things we quarrel about are so unimportant. . . ." 

"But Courcin . . ." 

"I hate him." 

He drove past the flowering shrubs of Roches Fleuries. 

"They're like faces," said Eleanore. "Please, let's be 
happy, Martin. Please!" 

She put her head on his shoulder. 

"I love you very much. It was a cow, wasn't it? It looked 
so white." 

Lambert nodded and took her hand. That was their 
understanding. They both gave each other reassurance in a 
lie. 

"I think," said Valerie, "that there's nothing I'd like to 
do more than climb a mountain in winter on skis." 



"Yes/' said Lambert. They walked on without speaking. 

"Would you ever lie to someone you loved?" Lambert 
asked Valerie suddenly. 

"Only to someone I loved," Valerie answered. "I couldn't 
be bothered to lie to anyone else/' 

The rocks to the summit of the hill jutted from the 
scrubby grass like stepping stones, and Valerie ran ahead 
while Lambert, slipping on the wet surface, came more 
slowly behind. 

"I hadn't thought of that," said Lambert. He reached the 
top and looked down on to the arc of the horizon, stretching 
in a green-brown panorama of woods, fields, three small 
lakes and a factory chimney breaking the plain. 

"Isn't it beautiful?" Valerie asked. She linked her arm 
loosely in his, and he watched the delight in her eyes as 
they travelled over the landscape. At the top of the Leap, she 
trembled. 

"It's getting cold," said Lambert. 

"No, it isn't," said Valerie. "I'm not a bit cold." 

She drew her arm from his, and smiled to him. 

"It's been such a wonderful afternoon," she said. 

It's been such a wonderful afternoon. Let's always be 
like this. He looked down at Valerie's face; and the Abri, 
the trellis of table-legs, Courcin, and the brakes in the dark 
ness were like the half-forgotten story of someone else's 
experience. 

"Yes, it's been a wonderful afternoon," he answered. 

"Would you like to go to a dance in the village tonight?" 
she asked. "The local association . . ." 

"Anything you like. What about your father, though? 
We can't leave him." 

"Oh yes he wants to stay in bed. Margaret will look after 
him. He wanted me to take you out. I'm afraid it won't be 
very exciting. . . ." 

93 



"That will be perfect. I couldn't bear an exciting 
evening/' 

Lambert took her hand as they walked down the steep, 
narrow path that descended from the upper rocks. 

"Tell me about your plans," Lambert said. 

"No/* she answered. "I'm always telling you about my 
self. You never talk to me about yourself or your work. 
When is Eleanore coming to England." 

"I'm not sure/' said Lambert. "Not till the spring, at any 
rate. She doesn't like England in autumn." 

"I love England in autumn/' said Valerie. "Will you ride 
with me tomorrow? I love the country in autumn. Love it, 
love it, love it." 

And she ran towards the red setter that bounded up as 
they approached the house. She held the dog, struggling 
and barking, with her arms around his thick neck, thrusting 
her face away from his lapping tongue, and said, "Oh, 
Fausto, Fausto, I do so love you." 



VI 



THE MASTER OF ceremonies sprinkled French chalk over the 
wooden floor, and kicked away a trailing ribbon while the 
band, Keith Monslow and His Serenaders, resting from the 
fury of their unco-ordinated samba, wiped their hands with 
silk handkerchiefs and adjusted the soggy collars of their 
dress shirts. During the evening, the wooden Institute had 
developed a hothouse temperature as the dancers arrived in 
their social times, the farm workers and their girls earliest 
of all; later, the farmers; then the London commuters, 
solicitors and stockbrokers; and last of all, a Member of 
Parliament, Alan Glasson, deputising for the sitting Mem 
ber who was ill. Glasson had made the journey reluctantly. 
He stood near the door with Mrs. Royde-Carr, the chairman 
of the committee, struggling with distaste at the scented and 
soapy smell of the dancers at rest, and disinclined to chal 
lenge the red-faced guffaws of the groups congesting the 
walls. 

"There are no votes in it," he said to himself, and smiled 
acquiescently to Mrs. Royde-Carr, observing the vein throb 
bing in her neck as she addressed him inaudibly in the din. 

"Oh, lord a speech!" said Valerie, standing with Lam 
bert in the shadow of a rafter near the bandstand. The 
drummer caught her eye and bowed to her. 

"Who is that?" Lambert asked. 

95 



"He drives our tractor and does odd jobs," said Valerie. 
"He's a Pole." 

Lambert glanced with hostility at the tractor-driver- 
drummer who, finding himself indicated and observed, set 
his pale, flat face into a curtsy from which it only rose at the 
instruction of Keith Monslow who commanded a roll of 
drums and a clash of cymbals to announce the visiting 
Member of Parliament. 

"Ladies and Gentlemen/' Mrs. Royde-Carr began. Con 
fronted by the faces, some with sagging mouths which drew 
her attention irresistibly, her mind became blank except 
for the thought that Edward's lapels were shiny and that 
Lilian Babcock was staring straight at her. She unfolded 
her notes, and read her speech hastily. 

"I am very sorry to tell you that our Member who had 
hoped to be with us tonight is ill." 

Without pausing for the "Ah!" of sympathy to finish its 
exhalation, she went on, "But we have here as his deputy his 
young friend and ours" (a patter of applause) "Mr. Alan 
Glasson, Member of Parliament for Merchison North." 

"South!" said Glasson, buttoning his jacket and unbut 
toning it as he felt its constriction. He was hungry none the 
less. From the layers of sandwiches at the far table, he 
realised that the committee intended to give him not dinner 
but refreshments. At the moment, but for the sitting Mem 
ber, he might have been dining in London at the Fantasio 
with the Peripatetics. He threw back his shoulders, chose a 
woman of benevolent aspect in a suitable middle-distance 
to receive his message and interpret his audience's mood, 
and began, self-deprecatingly, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm 
not really here at all." 

The murmur of laughter warmed him, and drew him on. 

"Where are you then?" said a belated voice from the back 
of the hall. The question evoked a laugh from contiguous 

96 



sycophants, and Glasson continued: 

"I am here to say a few words not a speech don't be 
afraid . . ." 

Sympathetic grins. 

". . . on behalf of your own Member who is, unfor 
tunately, as you have heard, ill and unable to attend him 
self. . . ." (Why Hinton hadn't sent them a message and 
had done with it, heaven only knew. He'd got the Whips 
to appoint a deputy; and they'd chosen him. Him! Glasson! 
Not a vote in the place.) 

"Yet I can't help feeling that it wouldn't be inappropriate 
for me to offer you a brief tour d'horizon of the political 
situation. . . ." 

A few farmers near the door escaped in a cold draught, 
but Mrs. Royde-Carr announced sharply, "Shut that door, 
please," and Glasson, swaying on his heels, relentlessly de 
livered the speech on the need for incentives and higher pro 
ductivity which a short-sighted Speaker had denied him the 
chance of making the previous week. 

Like a ship into a rising wind, Glasson forged ahead 
through the sound of shuffling feet, coughing and mounting 
conversation, sustained by the energy of the reporter who 
was taking down his speech. At worst, he felt, it might be 
good for a paragraph under "Week-End Speeches" in the 
Sunday press. 

"He can't stop," said Valerie. "That's his third perora 
tion. He's like a musical box that stops and you think it's 
finished and then it starts all over again." 

But Glasson had been diverted from his theme by the 
sight of Lambert, whom he had sometimes seen, though this 
eluded his memory, in the Civil Servants' "Box" at the 
House of Commons during Foreign Affairs Debates. Glas 
son ended his speech with his habitual formula: "The 
future is ours. It belongs to our children. Let us be worthy 

97 



of our trust, so that they may one day say, 'We are worthy 
of our fathers' inheritance/ " What it meant, he didn't 
quite know. But it was rotund in language, noble in its 
general trend, and always good for a prolonged applause. 

The band began to play a waltz, and the young men 
lining the wall on its right moved like infantry in loose 
formation on the girls who stood or sat against the wall on 
the left. The committee members at the tables waited till 
the others had begun before they too joined in the dancing. 
Meanwhile, under the guidance of Mrs. Royde-Carr, Glas- 
son was walking cautiously round the perimeter of the floor, 
occasionally pausing to shake an appointed hand. 

"And this is Valerie Valerie Fergusson," said Mrs. 
Royde-Carr. "So pleased you came, Valerie." 

"How do you do!" said Glasson. "I always thought I 
knew all the pretty girls in the neighbourhood." 

That was his formula for dances and garden parties. It 
was certain of success. Valerie smiled with pleasure. 

Lambert, unsmiling, said to Glasson, "My name is 
Lambert." 

"Yes," said Glasson. "Thought I knew you. Met you at 
the F.B.I. Dinner." 

"I don't think so/' said Lambert. 

"Perhaps the Coningsby Club . . ," 

"No, I'm at the Foreign Office. We must have seen each 
other in the House." 

"Yes." 

Glasson wasn't interested in Civil Servants. He was al 
ready stretching his hand out to the beaming, middle-aged 
woman whom he had used as a range-finder for his voice and 
expression. 

"I heard your speech, sir," she said, rising from her seat to 
take his hand and then subsiding. 

98 



"You mean you suffered it," said Glasson encouragingly. 

"Oh, no/' she answered. "I listened to every word. It was 
quite nice." 

"Thank you/' said Glasson stiffly. 

Lambert heard his voice fading with the music, "Thank 
you. Yes. I haven't dined . . . my train . . /' 

"I'm glad he's gone," said Valerie as she and Lambert 
danced together. "I don't want you to think about anything 
to do with the Foreign Office and work. You do dance well. 
Do you dance a great deal at the Foreign Office?" 

"I hardly ever go anywhere nowadays where they dance. 
When I was in Paris and New York, we used to dance a 
lot. . . ." 

"This must be very dull for you an Institute dance " 

"No, not dull. Not for a moment. And what Glasson said 
was perfectly true. . . /' 

"What did he say?" 

"He didn't say it but he meant it." 

"Meant what?" 

"You know exactly. ..." 

"I know, but I want you to say it." 

"He meant that you're a very pretty girl. But you're not a 
very good dancer. You keep kicking me sharply in the 
ankle." 

"I'm so sorry, Martin. Shall we stop?" 

"No I like it very much. Do you often come to these 
dances?" 

"Never. Am I doing it better now?" 

"Much." 

"I'll improve," Valerie said, "if you don't give me up as 
hopeless. The trouble is I can waltz this way but not that 
way." 

"In that case," said Lambert, "we'll waltz this way." 

99 



He found a space on the edge of the floor where they 
turned around and around clockwise to the one-two-three, 
one-two-three of the Serenaders. 

"I do like dancing with you/' said Valerie. She gave him 
a quick, contented glance, and added, "I'm getting giddy. 
Let's try the other way." 

"No, let's sit down," said Lambert. The band had begun 
to play "The Blue Danube" and the dancers, sweating 
freely now, had begun an abandoned gyration, colliding 
and cannoning like dodge-'em cars at a fun-fair. He took 
Valerie's arm, and led her to their chairs on the other side 
of the hall. 

A young man with thick fair hair came up to her and 
said, "Good-evening, Valerie. Next dance?" 

"Sorry," she said casually. "I'm engaged." 

"Well the next but one." 

"Oh ask me later, Edward. . . ." 

The young man reddened, and withdrew awkwardly. 

"Who was that?" Lambert asked. "You were very unkind 
to him." 

"That's Edward Whyte-Parker he's at Magdalene. Ter 
ribly tiresome. He's got a thing about me." 

"I thought he took it rather bravely." 

"Yes . . . he's impervious. Did you mind?" 

"Not a bit." 

"He's very good-looking though." 

Lambert didn't answer. 

"Don't you think?" Valerie persisted. 

"Rather bloodless," said Lambert. "With that fair hair he 
looks insipid." 

"Yes, he does a bit," Valerie said, and added in excuse, 
"He's an awfully good dancer." 

"How long have you known him?" Lambert asked. 

"Ages. About four years. We used to ride together. He's a 

100 



year older than me." 

"And you have you a thing about him too?** 

''Edward?" she laughed out loud. ''You are silly, Martin. 
He's an absolute ... an absolute child." 

Lambert looked benevolently at Whyte-Parker, who was 
puffing a cigarette without inhaling, near a wooden pillar. 

"He's terribly sweet, though," said Valerie. "He sent me a 
Donne for Christmas. He's reading English." 

"I see," said Lambert. "What's he doing here?" 

"Oh, he said he'd be coming to the dance. He wrote and 
said he hoped to see me." 

"Are you very fond of him?" 

"Oh, Martin, really I never give him a thought. Poor 
Edward!" 

Balmed by her assessment of Whyte-Parker, Lambert 
smiled and asked, "Would you like a coffee, Valerie?" 

"No," she answered. "I'd rather have an ice. You stay 
here, and I'll fight for it at the bar." 

Before he could answer, she had begun to run and then, 
recollecting Femina's observation that "the Gay Girls are 
the girls who take their time," stopped to smooth her blue 
silk dress and walked at a deliberate pace to the bar and its 
double row of customers. 

Lambert leaned back in his chair and shut his eyes. The 
band, the stir of conversation, the nameless faces, the heavy 
atmosphere were soporific. And Valerie. His hands retained 
a memory of her body, young and energetic and vital; and 
somewhere in his brain was the recollection of her devoted 
eyes. He tried to think of yesterday and the day before and 
of the days and weeks to come, of the airport and the Press 
Room, of his flat, the Memorial Service, the black ties and 
armbands, of Brangwyn and Padley and Mary, of the news 
papers and the general mourning. But the thought of 
Valerie, her voice, the warmth of her breasts and her shoul- 

101 



ders through her silk dress, came back to him in an endless, 
exclusive recurrence. 

"Hello, old chap, having a good time?" 

Lambert looked from the grey flannel trousers to the 
smiling face of the man in front of him. 

"I'm sorry . . ."he began. 

"Barraclough," the other said. "Remember me? We were 
on the Portsmouth Committee. . . ." 

"Of course," said Lambert, rising. He smiled to Barra 
clough, and shook hands with him. "Stupid of me! It's 
just that you're about the last person I'd expect to see at 
this sort of place." 

He paused and added, as Barraclough stood facing him 
with an air of amusement, "Good lord ... I forgot to ring 
you." 

"So you did," said Barraclough. "Don't give it a thought. I 
had to be in Cirencester this afternoon. I rang old Fergus- 
son, and he said I'd find you here. Do you mind if I sit 
down?" 

Lambert saw Valerie's blue dress in the lateral queue at 
the bar and said, "No. What can I do for you?" 

"Sorry to disturb you at your pleasures," said Barra 
clough. He brushed his moustache with his finger tips, and 
went on, "I've got to be back by tomorrow." 

"I see," said Lambert. 

"I'm not really dressed for dancing," said Barraclough. 
"Grey flannels, tweed jacket . . ." 

"It doesn't matter very much here," said Lambert. 

"Not really," said Barraclough. "Anyhow, I didn't come 
here to dance." 

Lambert waited for him to continue. 

Barraclough sat himself in the chair at Lambert's side 
and said, "It gets terribly fuggy in these wooden halls. . . . 



Shocking about Brangwyn!" 

"Very sad!'* Lambert answered. 

Barraclough, circling warily in the conversation like a 
boxer, came nearer. "Yes, I've been swanning around for 
the last two days trying to get something out for the Prime 
Minister's P.Q.," said Barraclough. "The Opposition's get 
ting all hot and bothered. There are another two questions 
down for Thursday." 

"I'm not very much in the picture," said Lambert. "Is 
there anything new?" 

"Nothing much," said Barraclough, stretching his long 
legs and crossing his ankles. "The whole business has got a 
bit complicated. The aircrash you can never tell with 
these things. And the French have pulled out of the Rome 
Conference. . . ." 

"When did you hear that?" Lambert asked. 

"I heard it in the car on the six o'clock news. Lacache has 
asked for a vote of confidence. There's a hell of a row going 
on in France. Sensitive people! *Le rapport Brangwyn' and 
'U 'affaire Brangwyn' you can't get away from it in Paris. 
I was over there the day before yesterday and you'd al 
most think . . ." 

"What about Le Monde Populaire?" Lambert inter 
rupted. "They're the fellows who've been plugging the 
story." 

"They are indeed. They're whooping it up like mad a 
stone has been dropped in the puddle and British eyes are 
still blinded by the mud 'par les eclaboussures.* Nice 
word 'eclaboussures' so splashy!" 

"And the denials?" 

"My dear fellow, have you ever known an official denial 
that's caught up with a lie? Look at this yesterday morn 
ing's." 

He produced from his pocket a folded cutting from Le 

103 



Monde Populaire, and translated aloud: 

" 'The publication by Le Monde Populaire of a paper 
dealing with British policy in Western Europe has produced 
several official denials as to the authenticity or existence of 
such a paper/ " 

"That's all right," said Lambert. 

"Is it?" said Barraclough. He read on: " 'We expected 
these denials. Obviously in a case like this it couldn't be 
otherwise. Our readers can rest assured that we've got 
serieuses garanties . . / How would you translate that?" 

"Proof," said Lambert. "They must have something 
pretty concrete to be so sure." 

" 'Serieuses garanties/ " Barraclough repeated. "It sounds 
to me more like 'reliable witnesses/ You know the editors 
of Le Monde Populaire?" 

"I've met them. . . ." 

"Rilly, Melancourt, Calopin, Delisle . . . ?" 

"I know them all slightly." 

"And Augier Victor Augier how well do you know 
him?" 

Lambert pushed his hands in his pockets to control their 
tremor. 

"I know him pretty well. He's their very best man, you 
know. Have you seen him lately?" 

"That's exactly what I wanted to ask you," said Barra 
clough. 

"I saw him the other day," said Lambert, "at our press 
conference." He was watching Barraclough's friendly, un 
emotional face cautiously. 

"What sort of chap was he?" Barraclough asked. 

"Very straightforward accurate shrewd. How do you 
mean 'was'?" 

"I mean he's gone. That's why I went to Paris. I called on 
him at Lancaster Gate, but they told me he'd gone. I flew 

104 



over to Paris, and went to his office in the Boulevard Hauss- 
mann. . . ." 

"Well?" 

"He'd left they've posted him to Rabat." 

"Rabat!" Lambert repeated, and smiled. Rabat. Rabat 
was remote, far from inquiry, far from Barraclough, far 
from the policeman's exhumations. 

"He was quick off the mark," he said. 

"Yes," said Barraclough. "And the other boys of the 
paper either know nothing or won't talk. Do you know 
Verdurin?" 

"No." 

"I thought you might have. He's Augier's buddy his 
'stringer.' They've shipped him off, too." 

"That makes it very awkward." 

"Not really," said Barraclough, looking straight at Lam 
bert. "We've got a pretty good line on the whole 
thing. . . ." 

Lambert waited for him to continue, observing with 
revulsion the thin, close-shaven face. 

"Oh, yes," Barraclough went on, laughing in a private 
satisfaction. "Tell me, old chap. Sparr-Gamby used to work 
in your Department. Think much of him?" 

"Sparr-Gamby? . . . He's in the Western Department. 
Quiet, retiring man!" 

"That's the one. What do you think of him?" 

Barraclough waited attentively for the answer. 

"I haven't any strong feelings about him," Lambert said 
with a slight hesitation. "I wouldn't myself want to spend 
an evening with him. But I don't want to be unfair. He's 
conscientious good at his job. You know he was a Scholar 
of Kings. . . ." 

"Oh, yes, I know all that. . . ," 

"And I think Baggott was a bit hard on him when all that 

105 



stuff blew up about his article." 

"You do?" 

4 'Yes, I do. Sparr-Gamby wrote it before he went into the 
F.O. Once in, he couldn't advertise his renunciation as 
the others did" 

"Which others?" 

"The others who could publish their repentance and 
sell it." 

"I suppose there must be a lot of Sparr-Gambys. . . ." 

"Bound to be . . ." 

"Yes, bound to be. . . ." 

"It's a natural inference. The question is whether they're 
dangerous or harmless. . . ." 

"Yes," said Barraclough reflecting. "Pretty good band, 
this. Bit too much drums ..." 

"Far too much," said Lambert. 

"Shy sort of a chap, I gather," said Barraclough. 

"That's why he was moved," said Lambert. "He was 
pretty hopeless at parties. One of his jobs was entertaining 
foreign journalists but he was much too shy." 

"Not very good with girls, I'm told. . . ." 

"How on earth can anyone know?" Lambert asked. "I'd 
have thought . . ." 

"Oh, you can tell," Barraclough said calmly. "He's very 
devoted to his mother. I've met her. She lives in Bux- 
ton. ... Do you know when he first met Augier?" 

"I've no idea. Probably three years ago when he first 
came into the Information Department." 

"They were pretty close friends. . . ." 

"Augier knew a lot of people," said Lambert. "He en 
tertained ... his flat was always 'open house' for drinks 
after six o'clock. You might see anyone there Members 
of Parliament, Civil Servants, editors, businessmen, ac- 

106 



tresses. ... He must have had an enormous expense 
account.'* 

"He had private means/' said Barraclough. "Did you 
know that Augier and Sparr-Gamby were together in Stresa 
two years ago at the Regina Palazzo?" 

"No, I didn't know. . . ." 

"Do you recognise any of the people in this photograph?" 

Barraclough took a wallet from his breast-pocket and 
produced a coloured photograph which he handed to 
Lambert. 

"Of course I recognise them," said Lambert. "Augier 
and Sparr-Gamby." 

"That's it," said Barraclough. "We found it at Lancaster 
Gate. Augier and Sparr-Gamby at Isola Bella with a distant 
view of Stresa across the lake. Wonderful place Lago 
Maggiore! Remember the Stresa Conference? It was my first 
job abroad long before the war you were still at prep 
school. Wonderful! I used to stand for hours outside the 
Hotel des lies Borromees waiting for the Foreign Secretaries 
to come out, and looking towards the islands. Have you ever 
noticed how the light seems to suspend the islands between 
the sky and the lake?" 

"What's that?" said Lambert with a start. "I'm sorry. I 
was thinking of Augier and Sparr-Gamby. . . ." 

"Curious association!" said Barraclough. 

"Very curious," said Lambert. "But I don't quite see what 
you're getting at. ... I knew Augier fairly well. He was 
always chasing around with women. . . ." 

"I'm making no suggestions," said Barraclough. "My 
job is simply to report facts. And the immediate facts of 
interest are that Augier and Sparr-Gamby knew each other 
well that they went on holiday together that they stayed 
in a most expensive hotel. . . . It's interesting. . . . Did 

107 



you know any of Sparr-Gamby's other friends?*' 

Lambert thought for a moment, and said, "No. Strangely 
enough I didn't. He was a very shut-in type of person." 

"They often are/* said Barraclough. 

"What do you mean?" Lambert asked. 

"I mean that these apparent recluses often have a very 
full and rich life within their isolation friends and ac 
tivities and precious reveries that's why they are so vul 
nerable so very vulnerable to blackmail. Have you ever 
thought Sparr-Gamby might have been blackmailed?" 

"No," Lambert answered curtly. "But how could I pos 
sibly tell? Anyone might be blackmailed even when they 
are perfectly innocent." 

"Yes," said Barraclough, pulling himself up from his 
lounging position. "I've been talking to Sparr-Gamby, ask 
ing him about Augier. It's very hard to probe the truth. 
Sometimes, when I've been asking people questions, I've 
had the curious feeling almost a hallucination that I 
would like to lift the top of their heads like a lid and inspect 
right inside, and discover what they are really thinking. All 
the rest is guesswork. You follow me, don't you?" 

"Yes," said Lambert. "Asking questions is, on the whole, 
a very crude way of finding out the truth." 

The two men rose as Valerie arrived, carrying a cup of 
coffee in one hand and an ice in the other. 

"Quick, take it!" she said to Lambert. "The coffee's 
slopping and the ice is melting." 

"This is Valerie Fergusson Colonel Barraclough," Lam 
bert said, introducing them. 

"Hello!" said Barraclough. "I think we spoke on the 
telephone. You had the impression that I was called Bala 
clava." 

"I'm frightfully sorry," said Valerie calmly. "I've been 

108 



doing the nineteenth century I'd been reading Guedalla 
on the Crimean War and you were fresh in my mind." 

"You mean my pseudo-homonym," said Barraclough. 

"Well, Balaclava of the War Office sounded so right. Are 
you staying here long?" 

"Oh, no. Till tomorrow. I'm at the Crown. . . ." 

Valerie looked from him to Lambert and back again, and 
said, "Why don't you come and see us tomorrow? Daddy 
would love to meet you. . . ." 

"I may have to go to London," said Lambert. 

"I'd like to meet your father again," Barraclough said. 
"I believe I met him at the Sugar Conference in Havana 
about five years ago. Would eleven o'clock be all right?" 

"Yes," said Valerie, smiling and taking his outstretched 
hand. "I know he'd be delighted to see you." 

"Well, good-bye, old chap," Barraclough said to Lambert. 
"And thanks for your help." 

"I'm afraid I wasn't much help at all." 

"Oh, yes. I wanted to fill in a bit more about Sparr- 
Gamby. I didn't tell you he had dinner with Augier the 
day before they published the story!" 

"Well?" 

"Well see you tomorrow." 

At midnight, after the band had played "God Save the 
Queen," they walked from the haloing light of the In 
stitute along the frost-hardened, rutted lane that led to 
the house. Valerie felt her way cautiously in the darkness, 
behind Lambert who led the way. 

"I'm sorry -I'm so slow," she said. "I can't see a thing. How 
idiotic of me not to have brought a torch." 

Lambert struck a match, but the wind blew it out almost 
at once. 

"Let me take your arm," he said. "I can see quite well." 

109 



He took her arm and enclosed it, through her coat, with 
his fingers, and began to walk more quickly. 

"Is that better?" he asked. 

"Yes, it's lovely. It's like running downhill with your eyes 
shut." 

"Tell me, Valerie, why did you invite Barraclough to 
the house?" 

"I don't know I thought he was a friend of yours I 
thought it would please you. . . . Didn't it?" 

"Not much. He's a policeman." 

"I thought he was at the War Office." 

"He is. He's a policeman disguised as a soldier disguised 
as a civilian. ..." 

"Well " she asked helplessly, "what's he got to do with 
you?" 

"Nothing nothing much. He's snooping around trying 
to find out who gave the French the Brangwyn Re 
port. . . ." 

"But that is important. Isn't it important, Martin?" 

"Yes it's important." 

He released her arm, and she stumbled along at his side. 

"Martini" she said. 

"Yes?" 

"I didn't tell you how much I enjoyed myself tonight. 
Thank you very much for taking me. ..." 

"You sound like a very small girl after a party 'thank 
you for having me.' " 

"I didn't mean that at all." 

She felt rebuffed and her eyes blurred with tears; she 
was grateful for the night. She stopped to blow her nose, and 
heard his voice ahead of her calling out, "Valerie! I've lost 
you." 

He came back, groping towards her in the darkness. 

"I'm here!" she answered. 

no 



He felt her sleeve, and drew her towards where he stood. 

"Let me make sure I don't lose you again!" he said. 

He put his arm around her waist and from there, under 
her left armpit, and they walked together slowly and with 
out speaking towards the light of the postern-gate, while 
beneath his fingers, he felt her breast, firm and pendant in 
the rhythm of their motion. 

Near the entrance, he paused, and said, "I think I must 
go to London tomorrow." 

"How long for?" she said quickly and anxiously. "You're 
so restless. You keep going away." 

"I'll only be gone for the afternoon." 

"You will come back?" 

"Yes of course." 

"Martin . . ." 

"Yes?" 

"You don't really think of me as a schoolgirl, do you? Do 
you?" 

He took his arm from her waist and looked at her face 
illuminated by the postern-light. 

"No. I don't think of you as a schoolgirl. I only wish . . ." 

"What do you wish?" 

She fumbled with the iron knob of the gate. 

He touched her lightly on the cheek without answering, 
and opened the gate for her to pass. 



VII 



LAMBERT HURRIED THROUGH the swing-doors of his club, 
hung his hat and overcoat in the cloakroom and impatiently 
entered the dining-room where every table was already 
occupied by members eating in quartets or octets. 

"Sorry, sir, full up!" said the waiter. 

Lambert pointed to a small isolated table by the window. 
"What about that?" he asked. 

"Reserved!" said the waiter. "But there ought to be 
something in a few minutes." 

Lambert looked at his watch. "I've got to be at the 
Foreign Office by three," he said. 

"You'll be out long before then," said the waiter. 

"All right," said Lambert. "Ill come back." 

He walked from the dining-room to the gallery that 
circled the club and, leaning over the balustrade, surveyed 
first its Byzantine cupola and then the wall of its centre hall 
surrounded by marble Corinthian columns. The swing- 
doors moved with a constant thump and revolution as 
members entered and left, their traffic forwarded by a 
uniformed attendant. 

Lambert ordered a whisky and soda, and recomposed the 
statement which he had prepared for Baggott. 

When he had telephoned the Prime Minister's office the 
sharp direction of the Private Secretary "Your proper 

112 



course, my dear fellow, is to take it up with Baggott" had 
antagonised him, and almost persuaded him to abandon his 
intention. But Fergusson, who stood at his side when he was 
telephoning, had said, "No, Martin. Get it over and done 
with. You're holding a struggling cat on your chest. Get 
rid of it." 

It was what he had said the evening before, when Lam 
bert had told him about Brangwyn and Padley and Augier 
and the report. Fergusson had listened to him in the library, 
interposing from time to time a "h'm" of attention. At the 
end of Lambert's description of what had happened, he 
said, "It's grotesque. Why in heaven's name did you have 
anything to do with it? He couldn't have ordered you 
to. . . ." 

"Yes, he could. But it wasn't an order. I wanted to do it." 

"Why?" 

"Why? It's hard to say. Why does one want to do any 
thing? I thought it would be a good thing to do. . . ." 

"Well?" 

"It would help me to get posted away from London. 
That's the whole story. It's been no good for years. You 
know it or if you don't know it, you must have guessed it. 
You know about Eleanore. . . ." 

"Not very much. I don't ask you to tell me. . . ." 

"There's nothing to tell you except that if we don't make 
a fresh start somewhere away from England not in 
America or France there's no hope for our marriage. ..." 

"And what then?" 

"I don't know. Last summer in France, she tried to com 
mit suicide. ... I went into this because I believed Brang 
wyn promised that when it was over he'd have me posted 
abroad to the Pacific." 

"That would have suited him." 

"It would have suited him very well. They'd always dis- 



liked Eleanore. She used to rattle very faintly in my sister's 
cupboard, and in Brangwyn's. He would have been glad to 
get rid of me." 

"What about Padley?" 

"Padley was a friend of mine. He hated the whole busi 
ness from the start. But his weakness his weakness was in a 
curious way a social one. Brangwyn used to smother him 
with a sense of social inferiority. As a brain, Padley could 
make rings around him, but if Brangwyn wanted anything 
done, he had several generations of authority behind him. 
And Padley had a bank clerk ^deceased!" 

"Did anyone else know about this his secretary? Some 
one in the Registry must know about the paper. . . ." 

"No one knew about it. Not a soul. The typescript was 
Brangwyn's own copy that should have gone into the Secret 
Waste. He simply kept it. There's no record or minute of 
the meeting. Absolutely nothing." 

Fergusson rose from his arm-chair, and straightened a 
photograph of his wife on a side-table. 

"It means," he said, "they've left you holding the baby." 

Lambert didn't answer. 

"No, not a baby," Fergusson went on, "a great, nasty, 
struggling, clawing cat. You'd better get rid of it, Martin. 
Ring the P.M. Try and get an interview with him. Get it 
off your chest! You've been looking ill." 

And in his presence the next morning, Lambert had 
telephoned to the Prime Minister's secretary and afterwards 
to Baggott's secretary. 

"Ryder!" said the voice at the other end of the telephone. 

"Ryder? This is Lambert. I'd like to see Baggott for a few 
minutes this afternoon. It's urgent." 

Ryder went away and then came back to the telephone 
and said, "He's pretty busy today. What about tomorrow 
week Monday the fourth." 

114 



"I've got to see him today. Tell him it's important 
urgent." 

Again the pause and the mutter of Ryder speaking into 
the intercommunicating telephone. 

"One moment," said Ryder, returning. "He'll speak to 
you himself." 

"Yes, Lambert?" came the quick, irritable voice. 

"I have to see you urgently." 

"Won't it keep?" 

"No. It's about the Brangwyn Report. I have some im 
portant information." 

"Three o'clock this afternoon in my office!" 

Lambert slowly replaced the receiver. 

"Well?" Fergusson asked. 

"Three o'clock this afternoon in his office/' said Lambert. 

"You'd better get a move on," said Fergusson. 

Valerie came in carrying a tray of coffee. "Don't go with 
out a cup of coffee," she said. 

Lambert looked at her smiling, confident face, and said 
brusquely, "I think your father will have some. I've got to 
be off." 

"Mustn't drink it," said Fergusson. "All this . . ." in 
dicating the area of his heart. 

"Please have a cup," said Valerie. She knelt on the floor 
by the low mahogany table, and Lambert watched the back 
of her neck, her bare elbows and the movement of her 
shoulders as she poured out two cups. 

And now, leaning over the balustrade, observing the 
movement and agitation of the hall below, he remembered 
Valerie, her name recurring like a whisper in his mind as 
it had recurred in accompaniment to all that he had thought 
and done in the last three days. 

He asked a waiter to find out about his table, finished his 



whisky and ordered another. 

Her name, her face, her voice came back to his mind, and 
he said to himself, "It's absurd!" and rejected the thought 
and still it returned with the whisper of her name; the 
texture of her coat, the resilience of her breast against his 
hand as they walked in the darkness; her neck bending over 
the coffee-pot; and her hand, warm and devoted and adult, 
in his. If it were all over, if Eleanore and he remained 
separate and apart as they had been for many months, if 
an end could come to their waste of years, if he could dis 
lodge the accumulation of regret and responsibility, he 
might start again. After he had spoken to Baggott. 

Like two pains that fuse in the central nervous system, 
the recollection of Eleanore at Bandol and of Barraclough, 
cross-legged and probing, at the Institute dance, merged in 
a single obsessive anxiety. To be rid of it all, to be whole 
again with the world, no longer to have a private, secret 
bass to the treble of every conversation. He had thought 
that Fergusson would understand, and so he had told him. 
But even Fergusson with his old, sympathetic eyes had 
listened to him like a doctor when a patient tells him of his 
mortal symptoms. 

"Get rid of it," Fergusson had said. Get rid of it. Operate. 
Go and see Baggott. Poor old chap. So glad it's you and not 
me. 

"What about my table?" Lambert asked the waiter. 

"About another ten minutes, sir," said the waiter. 

Lambert looked at the clock, and decided that he would 
do without lunch. 

"Get me another whisky and soda, will you?" he asked. 

He felt calm and clairvoyant. After he had told Baggott 
about the report, he intended to ask him for a new posting. 
Baggott wasn't an unfair man. He was merely a tiresome 
man, a little upstart. On principle he bullied anyone taller 

116 



than himself. If they were subordinate. They'd often quar 
relled before on the Information Liaison Committee and 
about the transfer of Meredew to Lyons. With Padley's 
backing, Lambert had won each time. About Eleanore, 
Baggott had been vindictive; his Austrian wife didn't like 
her. But Padley good old Padley had stopped all that. 
Lambert put down his glass and shook his head. "Mustn't 
get tight/' he said to himself, and went downstairs to the 
cloakroom, and washed his face in cold water. 

"Right you are!" said Ryder when the telephone bell 
rang and Lambert, who had already been waiting for over 
twenty minutes in the Private Secretary's outer office, drew 
open the green baize door and walked towards the desk 
where Sir Arthur Baggott was sitting with his back to the 
window. 

"Sorry to keep you waiting," he said in a friendly voice. 
"I've been up to my ears in it. Do sit down!" 

Lambert drew an upright chair to the side of the table, 
and said, "I didn't want to bother you. I know how busy 
you are. I wouldn't have done so, but it's important It's 
about the report." 

"What report?" 

"The Brangwyn Report " 

"The Brangwyn Report wretched business. Very bad 
business." 

They both were silent, and looked down at the table in a 
mourning tribute to Brangwyn and the report. 

"I wonder," said Baggott, "I hope you don't mind me 
mentioning this to you, Martin you've been on leave, I 
understand I wonder if you've noticed that we're wearing 
black ties?" 

He tightened the knot of his black, knitted-silk tie. At the 
same time, Lambert put his hand to his own grey tie, and 

117 



said, "Yes, I did notice. I've been in the country, and didn't 
have time to change/' 

And, having offered his apology, he suppressed a surge of 
resentment against Baggott who with his customary tech 
nique had obliged him to defend himself at the outset of the 
conversation. 

"Yes, of course," said Baggott magnanimously. "Of 
course. It's a spontaneous expression of respect. That's all 
there is to it. Poor old Andrew and James." His eyes be 
came sharp and official. "He should never have gone, you 
know. It's been a long-standing tradition that the Foreign 
Secretary and the Permanent Undersecretary should never 
be out of the country together much less fly together. The 
trouble with James is that he was a weak man. He never 
realised that the first job of the Permanent Under-Secretary 
on the very first day that a Foreign Secretary arrives is to 
assert himself." 

"How?" 

Baggott laughed. 

"You'd better go to the Private Secretaries' Room and ask 
there. I'll tell you this, Martin. The politician's never been 
born who in the long run can stand up to a determined 
Civil Servant. Oh, I know that some tough Minister can 
come along and throw his weight about. He'll stir up the 
Department study the functional diagram say he wants 
this and that. And then he'll have to go off to a dinner or a 
conference or to a Cabinet meeting. And in the meantime, 
the Civil Servant will be co-operating with his great ally 
inertia. Inertia it's eminent among the graces." 

He offered Lambert a cigarette from a pigskin cigarette- 
case, and fitted one for himself into a black holder. 

"You know about the Service at the Abbey on Fri 
day. . . ." 

"I read about it in The Times" 

118 



"Good. The P.M. will be there. You'll bring Eleanore, of 
course." 

He took a deep breath of smoke, and breathed it out with 
contentment through his nose and mouth and ears till he 
was circled in a blue, drifting aura. 

"Eleanore's in France,'* Lambert answered shortly. 

"Ah, yes, Trudi told me about it. How is she?" 

"She's been ill." 

"Yes," said Baggott. "Yes." He had seen his barb settle 
and quiver in the flesh, and was ready to change the sub 
ject. "It's going to be very awkward if they move for a 
Select Committee," he said. 

"Select Committee?" Lambert asked. 

"There's a Back-Bench motion I imagine the Chief 
Whip put them up to it calling for a Committee of Inquiry 
into Subversive Influences in the Civil Service." 

"But that's an old story. Sir Walter Cockburne asks a 
question about it every session." 

"This is rather different," said Baggott. "This is the first 
time that it's been established that there is specific trouble 
in the Foreign Office. Previously, it was hearsay. Now . . ." 
Baggott shrugged his shoulders and went on. "We can't 
have the press hinting that we tolerate a coterie of homo 
sexual crypto-Communists. You saw the papers this morn- 
ing " 

"Yes. There was nothing but the usual gossip and specula 
tion about the Brangwyn Report." 

"Well," said Baggott, putting the tips of his small hands 
together, "we'll see. The simple fact is that someone here 
here in the Foreign Office has committed an act of treason. 
A Foreign Office paper has been handed over to Le Monde 
Populaire. It's been published by every newspaper in 
Eastern Europe. It's given the French Communist Party 
let's face it the biggest boost it's had for years. For the last 



three days, the Czechs and the Bulgars and God-knows-who 
have been broadcasting selected extracts six or seven times 
a day. We can't say to' the Prime Minister or to Parliament 
or to the nation, 'We're frightfully sorry. There's been a 
mistake a slip-up/ " He relished the word "slip-up" and 
repeated it ironically. "Besides," he said, "it isn't very 
obscure or mysterious. The War Office had warned Gorse- 
Jones about it long ago. Sparr-Gamby was always a risk 
odious fellow. I'd have had him out long ago." 

Lambert watched him as he spoke, precise, articulate and 
vindictive, every hatred treasured, delicately moving over 
his doubts, but tenacious in the footholds of his certainties. 

"At any rate/' said Baggott, "I'm distracting you. What 
did you want to tell me? I understand you wanted to see the 
Prime Minister." 

"Yes." 

"Well, I hope 111 do." 

"I think so," said Lambert, and welcomed the flicker of 
annoyance that passed over Baggott's face. 

"I wanted to tell you the exact circumstances in which the 
Brangwyn Report was handed over to Le Monde Popu- 
laire." 

"That is very good of you," said Baggott calmly, but the 
tiny red veins on his cheekbones darkened. "Have a 
cigarette!" 

"No, thanks," said Lambert. He wanted to tell Baggott 
quickly how it happened, so that he could return to the 
country. 

"Last Friday evening . . ." he began, and Baggott 
listened with his hand over his eyes, unmoving. 

"That is very interesting," said Baggott when Lambert 
had finished. "Very interesting indeed. You are suggesting 
that the Foreign Secretary himself in effect handed over 

120 



this highly confidential paper." 

'I'm not making a suggestion/' Lambert said frigidly. 
'I'm telling it to you as a fact/' 

Suddenly, he felt hungry and the room seemed to darken 
with Baggott retreating far away and beyond his contact. 

"I see/' said Baggott. "And as a further fact, you are sug 
gesting no, stating that the Foreign Secretary and the 
Permanent Under-Secretary together conspired with you to 
betray for that's what it is a Cabinet paper with all the 
embarrassing and harmful results that have come from 
it." 

"I've already explained/' said Lambert. "I had nothing 
to do with the policy; Brangwyn virtually told me to mind 
my own business about that. He conceived the whole thing, 
and if it turned out badly that was his affair. All I wanted 
to tell you was how the report leaked out. I've done that. 
Is there anything else you'd like to know?" 

"You're getting rather excited," said Baggott. "Are you 
quite well?" 

"I'm in excellent health," said Lambert. "What are you 
implying?" 

"Nothing," said Baggott, raising his hand deprecatingly. 
"You don't look well. You look tired overstrained." 

Again he returned to perspective in Lambert's eyes. 

"I wonder/' he said, "if you'd tell me a little more about 
Friday night. Did anyone see you go into the Foreign Secre 
tary's room?'* 

"No/' 

"No. I thought not. And what was the name of the young 
man you gave the paper to in the Tate?" 

"You mean, the Royal Academy." 

"Yes. I knew it was somewhere artistic. What was his 
name?" 

Lambert hesitated, and said, "I don't know." 

121 



"You don't know. I see. Do you remember perhaps what 
he looked like?" 

Again Lambert hesitated and then he said, "He was a 
rather nondescript Frenchman." 

"Yes," said Baggott reflectively, as if to himself. "Yes." 

He rose, and walked over to Lambert's chair, 

"Tell me, Martin. Why have you this terrible grudge 
against Brangwyn?" 

"Grudge?" Lambert repeated. He looked at Baggott in 
bewilderment. "What grudge are you talking about?" 

"Why are you uttering this frightful slander against a 
dead man who can't reply?" Baggott asked in an emphatic 
voice. He walked back to the other side of his desk and, still 
standing, said, "I would have thought you'd have had more 
consideration for Mary. Andrew's dead, and Padley may 
die at any hour. And you come here with this miserable, 
mean, cock-and-bull story." 

Lambert looked up at him and said. 

"Don't be so damned pompous, Baggott. I've told you the 
truth every word of it." 

"I really think you're unwell," said Baggott. He leaned 
forward over the table. "For your information, Lambert, we 
know know definitely that the paper was given to Le 
Monde Populaire by Sparr-Gamby. He'd been feeding them 
with stuff for nearly two years." 

Again the light behind Baggott turned him into a 
silhouette retreating from the focus of Lambert's vision. 

"Look here, Baggott," he said. "What I've told you is 
the truth. I know. I was there. Sparr-Gamby had nothing 
to do with this don't look at me like that Good God, 
manl" 

He waved his arm, and knocked a calendar to the floor. 

"You'd better take a grip of yourself," said Baggott. 

122 



"You're becoming hysterical." He stopped, and his eyes be 
came spiteful. "You can't afford to have two members o 
your family ill." 

"You disgusting little. . . ." Lambert began, rising to his 
feet. He stopped and looked down on Baggott, who had be 
come pale and was ringing for his secretary. 

"I will recommend your suspension/* said Baggott, his 
mouth trembling. "I will recommend your suspension. 
Ryder!" to his secretary who had entered and was looking 
at him in surprise, "I am recommending Lambert's suspen 
sion. Brangwyn was right. He's . . . see him out!" 

The cold afternoon sun was already setting when Lam 
bert, after he had drunk a cup of tea in a Lyons shop near 
Whitehall, entered St. James's Park. Near the artificial 
islands, the ducks huddled in the slime-green water away 
from the wind that blew diagonally across the lake, scallop 
ing it into small waves, and bringing in puffs the smell of 
burnt leaves. The globular lamps along the Mall were 
citron against the darkening sky, and all around, from the 
Palace to the Colonial Office, windows had begun to glow 
in time with the advancing dusk. 

Lambert raised his coat collar against the wind and began 
to walk towards the ornamental bridge in the brisk pro 
cession of Civil Servants, bowler-hatted Guards officers, 
typists and mothers with perambulators. Here and there, 
along the serpentine asphalt path between the lake and the 
lawns, the benches were occupied by solitary figures in a 
reverie that cocooned them against the cold, and by lovers, 
private and without conversation, who, unable to find any 
other meeting-place, sat warmed by each other's touch, 
staring at the bending reeds and absorbed in their public 
asylum. 

123 



Again the conditionals. If he were to resign and leave the 
Service, dragging from the scene with Baggott the decision 
that he had been unwilling to make on his own behalf, if he 
were to tell Eleanore that now there was no purpose in re 
pair and pretence, if he were to see Ledward, who had told 
him, in the spring, "Come and see me if you leave the F.O. 
I'm looking for a Rome correspondent" he might begin 
again. He was thirty-nine, not too old to start a new career. 
Everything that he had done his work, his connections, his 
travel would be in the design of his new occupation. It 
was a prospect of liberty. To leave the Foreign Office, to 
have done with Baggott, Radcliffe, Curwen-Legge, never 
again to have to account for Eleanore, and to forget Foreign 
Service Regulation No. 3. He had rehearsed it in his memory 
like a threatening letter in the hope, frustrated at each 
recall, that within the menace there might be some imper 
fection, an outlet from its encirclement. 

"If a member of the Foreign Service becomes involved in 
a matrimonial suit which may, in the opinion of the Secre 
tary of State, bring discredit upon that member or upon the 
Service, the Secretary of State may call upon him to re 
sign. . . ." And so it would have been. Brangwyn and 
Baggott had watched and probed and waited, examining 
at intervals the festering discredit until the time when the 
regulation would allow it to be lanced. 

"A member of the Service who becomes involved in a 
divorce suit must, therefore, notify the head of the Person 
nel Department of the facts % of the case at the earliest pos 
sible moment" 

But there had been no facts to tell them. They had waited 
with curiosity, and then with disappointment and, at the 
end, with irritation, for him to declare his difficulties. "How 
is Eleanore?" "She is well she is ill she's better she's on 
holiday she'll be back soon." He had smiled and thanked 

124 



them for their kind inquiries. And they had smiled and 
waited another month. 

Now it was different. They weren't driving him away. It 
would be an act of free-will, a decision, not a penalty but a 
prize. He would liberate himself from Regulation No. 3 
by renouncing the Service that imposed it. He would live 
in Rome. And he remembered the hot, dry air of the Pincio 
Gardens, the statues scaled with time, the smell of the pep 
per trees and the white magnolias where the road rises 
near the Villa Borghese. And perhaps if it were possible 
perhaps it wasn't absurd it was not uncommon it wasn't 
only arithmetic one was a child and an adolescent and at 
last an adult and to be an adult covered a whole area of 
time perhaps, 5 he thought as he crossed the ornamental 
bridge with his head lowered against the wind, perhaps he 
might marry Valerie. 

He might marry Valerie. The thought, admitted to his 
mind, grew tumescent, powerful and full of wonder, a 
voluptuous, releasing paean. The nape of her neck with the 
hair falling in two strands. Her gentle attention. Her quiet 
presence far from Eleanore's eyes distracted by exhilaration 
or despair. Valerie was eighteen. Thousands of girls married 
at eighteen. In a year's time if Eleanore divorced him 
they would live in Rome, and for their honeymoon, they 
would go to Ischia. And they would walk over the hills 
among the ginestra, far away from everything, from the 
Foreign Office, from Eleanore and even from old Fergusson 
who was getting boring. 

There was no doubt about it. Fergusson was rather tire 
some. If he had his way, he'd keep Valerie permanently in 
a gym-slip. After ignoring her for years, he had now decided 
to exercise his parental responsibilities. And he'd been 
oversolemn last night in his advice. He was a pipe-sucker. 

125 



Lambert disliked people who spoke between pipe-sucks. He 
had pipe-sucked as he pressed Lambert to explain about the 
Brangwyn Report. And when Lambert came to think of it, 
he might have done better to be silent. Sooner or later, 
they would have known that Sparr-Gamby was blame 
less. . . . No one would ever admit that Brangwyn himself 
was involved in the stratagem, even though they knew it to 
be true. If he had said nothing, the Brangwyn Report 
would have been interred with its author, covered by the 
Foreign Office with earth, and The Times would have 
spoken its requiem. They'd all exaggerated. 

He decided that he would make a formal statement in 
writing to the Prime Minister. 

After he had crossed the bridge, he turned, and with the 
wind behind him, walked back in the direction of The 
Horse Guards Parade. A girl passed, smiling to herself. She 
was younger than Valerie, but she had the same untroubled 
expression on her face, the same air of private delight, the 
same indifference to season and time, and he retained her 
image in his mind, quickening his pace in order that he 
might the sooner leave London and be tranquil in Valerie's 
presence. 

The water of the lake had darkened with dusk, and the 
park was emptying. Through the Mall, the traffic moved 
urgently; and Lambert himself, although his hat touched 
his forehead in a damp rim, wanted, in the homeward ex 
hilaration, to break into a run through the sporadic walkers 
with their attach^ cases and umbrellas and brief-cases as 
they advanced over the sodden, leaf-strewn path. 

A man in a raincoat got in his way, and Lambert took a 
step to the side. 

"Hello, Lambert," said a familiar voice. Barraclough was 
standing in front of him, hands in pockets. 

"Hello, Barraclough," he answered. 

126 



"Cold!" said Barraclough. "Have you noticed how the 
ducks keep out of the wind?" 

He took his pipe from his mouth and said, "Going back 
to the country?" 

"Look here, Barraclough," said Lambert, "are you follow 
ing me?" 

"Following you?" said Barraclough. "You saw me come 
from the opposite direction." 

"But you knew I was in the park." 

"Yes. It's cold. Let's walk along together. They told me at 
the F.O. that you'd been there and given Baggott hell. 
You oughtn't to bully him. He's only a little fellow." 

Lambert walked on without answering. 

"I have to keep in touch," said Barraclough, half- 
apologetically. "And they've got to keep in touch with me. 
We tell each other everything like husbands and wives. 
Poor old Jones! He's off his head, with worry about the 
report." 

He removed the pipe-stem and blew through it as they 
walked. 

"They've made up their mind that it's Sparr-Gamby. . . . 
And that if it's not Sparr-Gamby it had better be." 

Lambert paused at a wooden bench, and faced Barra 
clough. "You know why I went to the Foreign Office this 
afternoon?" 

"I'm not sure." 

"Don't lie, Barraclough, and stop being . . ." 

Barraclough smiled cordially at him. "I told you I'm not 
sure," he said. "Baggott told me in general terms." 

"Do you believe Sparr-Gamby handed the thing over?" 

"I doubt it." 

"Do you believe . . . ?" Lambert hesitated. 

"Well," said Barraclough, encouragingly. 

"Do you believe me when I tell you that Brangwyn him- 

127 



self was responsible for the report leaking to France?'* 

"I don't know. Brangwyn's dead." 

Lambert began to walk again in the direction of the 
island. "In that case, there's nothing more I can tell you." 

"Oh, yes, there is," said Barraclough. "You see, you said to 
Baggott this afternoon that you yourself had some part in 
this that you yourself gave Augier the paper through his 
'stringer/ " 

"Well?" 

"Well, I don't think we need go much further for the 
moment." Barraclough didn't look at Lambert as he spoke. 
"What's the point of bringing in all the fol-de-rols about 
Brangwyn and Padley? Why shouldn't you have given 
Augier the paper off your own bat?" 

"Why . . . ?" Lambert hesitated again. "The trouble 
with you military policemen," he said, "is that you're simple 
to the point of ingenuity. Why should I have given Augier 
the report?" 

Barraclough stopped, and began to stuff his pipe with 
tobacco. "I mustn't keep you," he said. "I know you're 
anxious to get back to your friend Fergusson. But you did 
give Augier the report, didn't you?" 

"Yes," said Lambert. "I did." 

And before he could continue, Barraclough had turned 
his back on him, and was walking briskly towards the 
granite annexe of the War Office. 



VIII 



"GOING UP! WHICH floor, sir?" 

"I don't know/* Lambert answered. "Sir James Pad- 
ley . . ." 

"Fifth floor/' the liftman answered, examining the 
empty vestibule in search of more passengers. "No visitors!'* 

"That's all right/' said Lambert. "I'm from the Foreign 
Office." 

The liftman looked at him doubtfully. "They're not 
letting anyone in. ... Anyway, Matron doesn't like visi 
tors after six." 

"Just take me up," said Lambert. 

The liftman hesitated, and then closed the door. 

"Well, don't say I didn't tell you," he said, and pressed a 
button. The grille moved heavily into position, and the lift 
began its slow, lurching progress upwards. 

"Old-fashioned, these lifts," he said. "Time they were 
changed specially in the Private Wing." 

The lift clicked as it passed the first floor, and Lambert 
caught a glimpse of a dark hospital corridor. 

"You get used to it, though," said the liftman. "After the 
war the first one when I was demobbed I worked in a 
nursing home in Welbeck Street. They had a lift there you 
worked with a rope. Talk about pull! You had to ring it 
like a church bell. Hydraulic!" 

129 



"Oh, yes," said Lambert. 

"Hard on the feet/' said the liftman. "See this leg?" 

"Yes." 

"It's artificial. Funny how quick you get used to it." 

The lift clanked steadily past the second floor. 

"We go on automatic at seven," said the liftman. 

Lambert stared at the iron trellis without answering. 

"I once knew a chap at the Foreign Office," said the lift 
man. 

"Which department?" Lambert asked. 

"Electrical," said the liftman. "Ministry of Works really. 
He looked after the fittings. Name of Stephens. 

"Bill Stephens?" 

"That's him." 

Lambert looked at the liftman's face for the first time. It 
was a tired, gentle face that had accumulated a store of 
sympathy, gathered in synoptic conversations from transient 
companionships. They smiled to each other, and Lambert 
said, "I like Bill Stephens. Very useful man." 

"Doesn't get on with his wife," said the liftman. "Here 
you are, sir. Fifth floor. Good-night!" 

"Good-night," said Lambert, and stood for a few mo 
ments outside the lift shaft waiting for a nurse from whom 
he could inquire about Sir James Padley. 

In front of him were the numbered doors of the private 
rooms, each ticketed with the name of patient and doctor, 
each with vases and bowls of flowers assembled outside as if 
around an altar. Their scent mingled with a dominant smell 
of antiseptic and the rubber floor. 

"I say!" Lambert said to a nurse who walked gracefully 
towards him, carrying an object under a napkin. Like an 
indolent waitress, she ignored him, unhurried in her in 
difference, and disappeared at the other end of the dark and 
deserted corridor. 

130 



An indicator board flashed with the illuminated num 
bers of rooms, and he walked towards it. Through a low 
transom window, he could see a nurse writing at a table. He 
knocked, and pushed the swing doors open. 

"Yes?" she asked sharply. 

"I'm sorry to disturb you, Sister/' Lambert said. "My 
name is Lambert. I'm from the Foreign Office. I've come to 
see Sir James Padley." 

She stopped writing and stood up. She was tall with a 
clear, fresh complexion, and her uniform, as she rose, rustled 
in the silence. 

"Good-evening," she said. "I was a bit surprised, you see." 
Her voice had taken on a light cadence. "I'm Sister 
Llewellyn. But I'm sorry visitors aren't allowed. Sir James 
is very ill." 

"I know," said Lambert. "I didn't want to see him for 
very long. I'm a friend of his " 

"He's very ill," she repeated. "Here is the press bulletin." 

Lambert glanced at the slip of paper that she held out to 
wards him, and she put it down. 

" 'Sir James Padley is still unconscious' it's not very in 
formative," he said. "I want to know how he is." He raised 
his voice, and added, "I want to know the truth." 

"Would you like to take a seat, sir?" the Sister asked. "I'll 
just go out and make some inquiries." 

"In a moment," said Lambert, standing between her and 
the door. "What does Sir Horace Zinner say?" 

He saw her face flush and become pale, and she said, "I 
can't discuss patients without permission. Will you excuse 
me?" 

He stepped aside, and she went out hurriedly. Within a 
few seconds, she returned with a thick-set man in a blue 
serge suit who wore his hair smoothed in three stripes over 
an otherwise almost bald head, and said, "This gentleman 



says he's a friend of Sir James." 

"Hello, Veale," said Lambert. The last time he had seen 
Padley's detective had been at the airport. 

"Hello, sir/' the other answered, smiling. "You've been 
frightening Sister. She came for police protection." 

"I didn't," said the nurse. 

"Yes, you did," said Veale. He had a resonant, healthy 
laugh that made the glass in the cabinets tinkle. "She 
thought, sir, that you'd come to blow us all up." 

"Well, how was I to know?" said Sister Llewellyn to 
Lambert. "You looked so menacing. Would you like a cup 
of tea, sir?" 

"No, thanks," said Lambert. "I only wanted to find out 
about Sir James." 

"He's bad," said Veale, suddenly serious. "I've been on 
duty twelve hours a day outside that door. . . . By the way, 
there's a terrible draught down that corridor. . . ." 

"You want a muff for your feet," said the nurse. "I'll lend 
you mine." 

They both laughed uproariously. 

"Go on," said Lambert to Veale. 

"Well, he seems to be fading I keep looking through 
the observation hatch every quarter of an hour at least 
that's the order and he looks to me as if he's dying bit by 
bit." 

"What does Sir Horace Zinner say?" 

"I don't know. It's pretty hopeless. Sister, show Mr. Lam 
bert the report." 

"Certainly not," said Sister Llewellyn. "I dare not. Do 
you want a cup of tea?" 

"What me?" said Veale, mimicking her. "I dare not." 

"You're a goose/' said the Sister, and threw a pair of 
pliers at him. 

132 



"Attempting to do actual bodily harm/' said Veale. "If 
Mr. Lambert weren't here, I'd take you in charge." 

("Stop it! Stop it! For Christ's sake, stop it!'* Lambert said 
to himself. Outside the corridors were lined with pain, and 
the detective and the nurse were coquetting.) 

"Do you think I could look at him for a moment, Veale?" 
Lambert asked. 

"All right, sir," said Veale. "Let's ask the Special. Our 
orders are a twenty-four hours' watch. It doesn't really 
matter. . . ." 

"Where is he?" Lambert interrupted impatiently. 

"I'll take you along. . . . Are you feeling all right, sir?" 

"Yes." 

"I'll have a cup of tea for you, Veale," said the nurse. 
"And remember, no one's to go in." 

"Right you are, Sister," said Veale, and they gave each 
other an affectionate leer before he followed Lambert into 
the corridor. 

"It gets quiet at night," said Veale. "Everything looks 
different even the corridors." 

He stood aside to let a student nurse go by, wheeling a 
trolley. 

"It's different in the daytime when everybody's busy. But 
at night it's a bit like a prison. All the doors closed 
everyone in pain or lying awake in the dark or 
drugged. . . ." 

"You're getting morbid, Veale. . . ." 

"Well, it makes you think, you know. When I've been on 
night duty at about three or four in the morning that's 
when it gets you. The temperature suddenly drops. . . . 
They wanted me to go to Rome. Took me off at the last 
minute and sent Edwards instead. . . . Poor old Edwards I 
That's how it is." 

133 



"How's your family?" 

"Oh, very well, sir. I don't get round to seeing much of 
the kids. Not on this job." 

They had reached Room 24, and Veale pointed to a 
chair with a small table, lit with a desk-lamp, outside. 

"My office!" he said, and he laughed loudly. 

Lambert turned his head to the card on the door, "Sir 
James Padley: Sir Horace Zinner," and Veale said, "He's 
very bad, sir." 

"Do you know what Zinner says?" Lambert asked. 

Veale glanced quickly up and down the corridor, and 
said, "Here take a load of this." 

He drew a report-card from his inside pocket and handed 
it to Lambert. 

"Where did you get this?" Lambert asked. 

"I snitched it," said Veale proudly, "from Sister Llew 
ellyn." 

"Thank you, Veale," he said. He walked towards the door 
as if to enter the room, but Veale put out his hand firmly 
and said, "Sorry, sir. I can't allow visitors. Those are strict 
orders." He peered through the panel, said: "The Special 
has gone off for a minute. Wait till she gets back. She might 
let you look through the door." 

"I only want to go in for a few moments," said Lambert. 

"Not even for a few moments, sir," said Veale. "It isn't 
doctor's orders. They're security orders. The only visitors 
allowed are the doctors, his son not even his daughter-in- 
law the nurses and the Special. . . . Here, sir. You can 
take a look through the glass." 

Lambert pressed his brow against the observation-panel, 
straining to distinguish the shapes in the blue-lit room. 

"I can't see a thing," he said. 

"Shut your eyes, sir," said Veale, putting his head close to 
Lambert's. "Then open them. . . . You'll see. . . ." 

134 



When Lambert opened his eyes again, he saw a screen by 
the window, an arm-chair, the end of the bed, two glimmer 
ing swathes on the blankets and a white cone, immobile, like 
a bolster placed longitudinally. The small blue light threw 
no shadow; the room was phosphorescent like the interior of 
a cave. The two men stared for a few seconds, till Veale drew 
away and said, "That's how it is. Never moves. Not since 
they brought him in from Uxbridge." 

"What does Zinner say about his chances?" Lambert 
asked. "Is there any chance?" 

"You never know with Zinner/' said Veale. "Young Pad- 
ley asked him just that I heard him and he said, I'm not 
God' and then young Padley asked him about the details, 
and all Zinner did was complain about the Health Service. 
You know these specialists. . . ." 

"Would you like a cup of tea, now?" asked Sister Llewel 
lyn, returning. 

"You carry on, Veale," said Lambert. "I'll stay here till 
you come back." 

Veale hesitated, and the nurse said, "All right if you 
don't want to!" 

"Yes, I do!" said Veale hastily, and added in friendly 
flippancy. "I'll leave you in charge, Mr. Lambert five 
minutes." 

"I won't go away," said Lambert. 

"There's the evening paper," said Veale, and he walked 
away laughing with the nurse. 

Lambert sat at the table and began to read the newspaper 
from the back page, turning through the sports news and 
the theatre columns and the advertisements and the petty 
crime and divorces and the gossip paragraphs of "London by 
Night" till he came to the editorial. The title was "Unsafe, 
Unsound"; and he read it as if it referred to a foreign 

135 



country and persons whom he had never known. 

"No one/' said the editorial, "wishes to introduce in 
Britain methods of security which are repugnant to our 
national tradition. Yet the first duty of the state is to defend 
itself. The issue of the Brangwyn Report raises larger ques 
tions of public confidence in the administration of the 
Foreign Office and in its ability to provide essential safe 
guards against the treasonable betrayal of the nation's 
secrets. If we use emphatic language, it is because the situa 
tion requires drastic action. The nation's mind will not be 
at ease until those guilty of the treacherous delivery of the 
Brangwyn Report have been identified, tried and pun 
ished." 

Lambert turned to the front page, and read the headline, 
"BRANGWYN AIRCRASH: SABOTAGE NOT RULED OUT SAYS 
MINISTER OF TRANSPORT." Beneath the report of the Minis 
ter's reply to a Parliamentary question about the circum 
stances of the crash was a box set in heavy black type: 

"Sensational developments (says our Diplomatic Corre 
spondent) are expected in the Brangwyn Case during the 
next few days. High Foreign Office officials have been ques 
tioned. Superintendent Raynes called at the War Office 
this morning. It is understood that a member of the Foreign 
Service has been suspended from his duties pending the 
outcome of these investigations." 

"LATE NIGHT FINAL," said the lettering at the top of the 
page. Lambert read the paragraph again, and said, "It's 
about me. To hell with them. ..." 

"To hell with them," he said again, and pushed open the 
door of Room 24, and went inside. As if not to disturb 
Padley, he closed it gently behind him, and went on tip-toe 

136 



to the edge of the bed. He put his hands on the cold rail, 
and waited till his eyes became accustomed to the livid light 
that fell on the blankets in the colour of a fading bruise. He 
followed with his gaze the mummy-like shape in the bed, 
the two arms swaddled in gauze, darkened in patches, and 
the head propped up in a grotesque white turban. Through 
out the room hung a mild, sweet stench. 

Lambert came to the side of the bed, and looked more 
closely at Padley. In his pocket his hand clutched his torch, 
and he took it out, and sat for a short time in the arm-chair, 
with his thumb on the switch. Of Padley's face he could only 
see the nose, and forehead, and the cavernous darkness of 
his eyes. His eyebrows had been burnt away. 

" James!" he said in a whisper. The inert body lay on the 
bed like an effigy on a tomb. "James!" he said more loudly. 
"James!" 

As he leaned forward, he saw Padley's eyes open and 
glitter, and he leapt to his feet, with his torch lit and playing 
over Padley's face. But the door of the kitchen on the other 
side of the corridor whose light had shone through the 
observation panel, closed; and the illusion that Padley's 
eyes had opened was gone. 

"James!" Lambert called again. 

The torchlight showed his pale thin face, the yellow 
stains on the bandages and the movement of his breath 
under the blankets, tender and shallow as an infant's. 

"James! It's Lambert Lambert " he called in an 
urgent whisper as if his voice could penetrate the layers and 
layers of Padley's unconsciousness to the mysterious ab 
stracted world where he was breathing. "Wake up, James," 
he said. "Wake up and tell them." 

Brangwyn and Padley. The dead and the dying. To hell 
with them. To hell with them all. 

137 



"Who are you? What are you doing here?" a woman's 
voice asked angrily. 

4 'Who are you?" Lambert asked the nurse who was taking 
off her cape. 

"I'm the Special. You shouldn't be here." 

"No," said Lambert. "There's no point in it." 

He went to the Sisters' Room where Veale, now drinking 
his third cup of tea, was explaining to four admiring nurses 
the mechanism of his revolver. 

"You'd better get back, Veale," he said. "There's a strange 
woman in Number twenty-four." 

Veale hurriedly drank his tea, and said, "Thanks, that'll 
be Grimethorpe. Good-night all." 

"Good-night and don't shoot yourself," said a dark 
young nurse. Delighted with the amiability, Veale left, 
laughing, followed by a farewell stream of giggles. 



IX 



FAR BELOW, BOOMING in the funnel of the lift-shaft, a door 
slammed, and Lambert waited, hat in hand, for the lift 
to ascend. It rose like a diving-bell from the sea, its dome 
slit at the side with the light that filtered through the 
ventilator. It stopped and Lambert waited for the grille to 
open. But he saw that the empty lift had come up auto 
matically, and he opened first the outer gate and then 
pushed back the inner, resistant grating. 

The time was a quarter past eight, and he estimated that 
if he spent no more than half an hour at some restaurant on 
the way to Felling, he could arrive long before midnight. 
For the first time since the morning, he felt hungry, and 
as he pressed the button opposite the bronze sign "Ground 
Floor," he decided that he would eat after all at the White 
Tower in Charlotte Street only a few hundred yards away. 

The lift released itself with a faint hesitation and began to 
trundle downwards towards the fourth floor, and Lambert 
remembered Padley, lying as if in the cerements of one 
already dead, and the antiseptic smell, and the corpses in 
the Italian sun on Route Five during the war. At that mo 
ment, the lift stopped, and Lambert pulled the brass handle 
to open the door. He then saw that opposite the gate was 
not the hospital corridor but the brickwork wall of the 
lift-shaft. 



"Christ!" he said aloud. 

He pressed the ground floor button, and the lift began to 
move downwards again. Lambert's heart accelerated its 
beat, and he wiped his hands on the side of his coat. The lift 
reached the fourth floor, and Lambert drew a deep breath as 
he saw the corridors and felt the lift, nonchalant and un 
hurried, sinking past the thick concrete marked "Four" in 
black paint. 

A second later, the lift stopped again. Looking up, Lam 
bert saw that it overtopped the floor by about six inches, but 
opposite him was the wall. He pressed the button hard, and 
waited as if for an answer to a doorbell. Nothing happened. 
He put his hat on the porter's stool, and pressed the button 
again. Still nothing. He kept his eyes on the few inches 
above the floor, and pressed the red "Alarm Bell." He 
listened for its ring, but there was no sound. 

"Hello!" he called out. "Anyone there?" 

There was no reply. He shouted again; and this time, he 
heard muffled voices rising up the lift-shaft, followed by a 
woman's voice from above, "Are you all right?" 

He looked up, and saw the mouth and nose of someone 
who was lying on the floor above in order to be able to speak 
to him. 

"Yes," he said. "I'm all right. Do you know what's 
happened^" 

"Nothing much," said the nurse. "Something gone wrong 
with the lift. Soon have you down. How do you feel?" 

"I feel ridiculous," said Lambert. "Like a monkey in a 
cage. How long are they going to be?" 

"Not long." 

"Could you throw me a cigarette?" 

The nurse went away, and returned with three cigarettes 
that she flicked through the grille. Two fell on the floor, but 
one fell down the shaft. 

140 



"What's it like there?" the nurse asked. 

"It's getting rather warm/' Lambert answered. "How 
long are they going to be?" 

"Not long," said the nurse. "The electricians are working 
on it already." 

Lambert took his coat off and put it on the floor. Above 
him, he could see a growing assembly of feet the feet of 
two women, three pairs of men's black shoes, and a pair of 
boots. He gave a savage pull at the handle of the gate and 
started rattling the grille. 

"Don't do that, mate," a man called down to him. "You'll 
only get yourself tired. If you get through the gate, you've 
still got the wall. Easy does it. Well have you out soon." 

"Sorry," said Lambert. "Any idea how long it'll be?" 

"Not long, chum. Got enough air?" 

"No. It's getting damned hot." 

"Well, get your head down by the bottom of the gate if it 
gets too hot." 

The nurse came back, and said, "Hello, we're bringing 
you comforts." 

She swung a bar of chocolate through the trellis, and 
Lambert caught it. 

"Won't be long," she said. "How would you like a cross 
word? I'll send you one down in the next post." 

"Bless you!" said Lambert, and he felt a cold stream of 
sweat trickle along his spine towards his kidneys. He smiled 
to the nurse, and when she went away, began to read the 
notice on the wall. "The Company accepts no responsi 
bility. . . ." Repeat, "The Company accepts no responsi 
bility." Repeat, "The Foreign Office accepts no re 
sponsibility." Repeat, "Brangwyn accepts no responsibility." 
Repeat, "Padley accepts no responsibility." Repeat, "No 
one accepts responsibility." No one accepts responsibility. 
No one except Lambert. 

141 



"You all right, chum?" the electrician's voice replaced 
the nurse's. 

"I'm all right perfectly all right. For God's sake get this 
damned thing started." 

From the basement someone shouted instructions to a 
mechanic who answered from the dome of the lift. Lambert 
could hear the drumming of feet and the sharper sound of 
tools above his head. 

"Have a go now, Charlie," the voice called. Lambert saw 
a new pair of boots land on the floor. 

"Try it, brother," said the workman who had been talk 
ing to Lambert. "Press the third floor button." 

Lambert stood and pressed the button. As he released it, 
the lift gave a shudder and began to descend. After it had 
sunk about eighteen inches, it stopped again, opposite the 
brickwork. Lambert pressed the third floor button again, 
then the ground floor button, and then splayed his hands 
over all the buttons. The lift was immobile. 

Beyond the cage, the wall. Beyond the wall, a cage. And 
another, and another. Lambert tugged again at the handle 
till his hand became a red matrix of its design. 

"Oh, God," he said, and stretched himself on the floor. 
The lift, unventilated by motion, was stiflingly hot, and 
seemed suddenly to have become lagged with a felting that 
denatured the sounds from above and below. The voices 
reached him without consonants, a ventriloquial mumble 
that struggled up from the interior of the shaft without 
emerging. 

"Hello!" Lambert shouted, clutching the trellis of the 
gate. A few inches away, the brickwork rejected his voice 
like the mouthpiece of a telephone gone dead. 

Lambert put out his hand and touched the wall. The air 
had condensed against it, leaving a surface of sweat. 

"Hello!" he shouted at the top of his voice. A jangle of 

142 



vowels, the struggle of a dumb man, rose in answer. Lam 
bert walked around the narrow lift, and climbed on the 
stool, trying to look through the ventilating slits. He could 
see nothing except the wafery fungus on the wall. 

"I'll count/' he said aloud. The exhaustion in his knees 
mingled with the beginning of panic. 

"By the time I reach a thousand . . ." 

Facing the brick wall, he sat himself on his overcoat, 
wiped his neck and face with his handkerchief, and began 
to count. When he reached fifty-seven he rose to his feet and 
began to shout again and rattle the gate. 

He wanted to smoke, but he couldn't find a match. And 
then he wanted a drink. The thought became pervasive and 
desperate, and with it, the recollection of the cold air of the 
streets, the wind in the park, the open hill at Felling. One 
of his hands began to bleed from the sharp edge of the 
grille, and the trickle of blood was a distraction. He tied 
his wet handkerchief around it and returned to his coat, 
and sat with his hands over his mouth. 

"Quiet!" he said. 

At Reggio, during the war, he waited for three days, in 
the camp for transient officers, a two-floored barn, to get an 
aeroplane from the airstrip. He had a bed on the second 
floor. During the third night, there was a heavy air attack 
and he woke to a clatter of gunfire and the stumbling of the 
other officers making for cover. But in the bed next to his 
was an American Colonel, a Ranger, arrogant and aggres 
sive, who earlier in the day had antagonised the mess with 
his truculent bonhomie. He lay without moving, and Lam 
bert watched him in the leaping and fading flames from a 
burning farm house. As he watched, he saw the Colonel 
open one eye and look at him and close it again. And while 
the barn shook and creaked at the thud of bombs, Lambert 

143 



and the Colonel lay and observed each other to see who 
would run first. 

When the guns burst into a new rattle, lighting the room, 
Lambert saw the Colonel's face glistening and he was 
pleased. But after a time the aeroplanes murmured away 
in the distance and the guns became silent. 

The Colonel opened one eye and said, "You've got to 
sweat it out!" 

"Yes," said Lambert, and fell into a contented sleep. 

In the lift, Lambert dozed for a few moments. 

"You've got to sweat it out," said the Colonel, in his 
dream. They were sitting in a low, closed cylinder. And 
Lambert saw that the Colonel was Barraclough. "The door 
won't pull," he said. "You've got to sweat it out. See my leg. 
It's artificial." 

Lambert woke, gasping for breath. Facing him was the 
iron gate, and the brick wall. 

He closed his eyes again, and suddenly the lift began to 
move downwards in little jolts. Lambert rose to his feet, and 
wiped his face. The third floor was coming into sight. He 
could see the caps of the nurses and the faces of three men 
gazing upwards. 

"Don't stop . . . don't stop," he said to the lift. It jerked 
downwards, inch by inch, till it reached the third floor. 

"All right, Charlie," said the liftman. "That'll do it." 

He put his hand through the gate and unhinged its catch. 
Lambert straightened his tie, picked up his coat, and walked 
out into the corridor. 

"Are you O.K., sir?" asked the liftman. "Didn't think I'd 
be seeing you so soon. They brought me back. . . ." 

"Would you come for a cup of tea?" a nurse asked. 

"No, thank you," said Lambert. 

144 



"You're soaking wet," said the liftman. "And your hand's 
bleeding." 

"It's nothing," said Lambert. "How long was I in the lift? 
I broke my watch." 

"About a quarter of an hour," the nurse answered. 

"I was once caught in a lift," said the liftman. "Took 
them three hours to get us out." 

"What did you do?" Lambert asked. 

"I had a shut-eye," said the liftman. "Three hours' lovely 
sleep with pay." 

"Are you sure you don't want a cup of tea?" asked the 
nurse, looking at Lambert's white face. 

"No, thanks." 

"All right by-bye." 

"Good-night." 

Lambert ran down the steps alongside the lift-shaft and 
into the street. When he reached his car, he lowered all the 
windows so that the air could dash itself against his face as 
he drove, steadily accelerating towards the by-pass. 

For twenty minutes he drove in the even flow of cars and 
lorries from London, thinking of Valerie, till on the curve 
of a hill, he saw stretched out in front of him the orange and 
green lights of the airport, the B.E.A. signs flashing like the 
illuminations of a fun-fair. He drew up at the side of the 
road and listened to the rumbling of an aircraft warming up 
in the darkness. Above he could hear the calm, assured 
sound of another aeroplane coming in to land from the 
clear, starlit sky. No mark of wreckage; no memory of 
disaster. Traffic is normal. Twelve flights to Paris; six to 
Rome; two to Athens; two a week to Nicosia. 

Everything was normal. They would arrive at night, and 
fly to Rome. It would be the first time she had flown and he 
would make all the arrangements. Among unknown people 



they would look down in the darkness on cities and rivers, 
clusters and avenues of mysterious lights, their hands and 
arms linked, and they would descend in a far-off place, away 
from melancholy hospitals and Baggott and Fergusson and 
the evening papers and the Establishment Officer and 
boisterous nurses. 

It was three minutes past nine and he switched on his 
wireless-set and heard the announcer say, ". . . 'a major 
defeat for the cause of the West and will give heart to its 
enemies/ The Leader of the Opposition went on to say that 
the cancellation of the Rome Conference was a direct re 
sult of the publication of the Brangwyn Report, and would 
set back the cause of Western co-operation by five years. It is 
understood that the Prime Minister is personally . . ." 

Lambert switched off the wireless, but the diminished 
words "taking an . . /' lingered. He turned the car around 
and drove back to London. His mind was made up. He 
would never go back to the Foreign Office. 

He would collect a few shirts and another suit, and then 
return to Felling and wait. 

"Mrs. Coles!" he called out when he entered his flat, and 
remembered that it was her night out. On the floor of his 
bedroom were two envelopes. He bent and picked them up, 
and noted that Mrs. Coles was getting old and lazy. Next to 
his bed a novel by Pellegrino that he had been reading was 
turned downwards with its spine forming a longitudinal 
ridge above its riffled pages. "I meant to tell her/' he said 
to himself, and went into the drawing-room to get a drink 
from the cabinet. 

His bureau drawers were half open, and a crystal vase 
lay unbroken on the floor, together with a report on the 
Information Services in Germany. Lambert took out his 
key to unlock the desk of his bureau, but then he saw that 

146 



it was already gaping where the splintered woodwork of 
the top lock had been hacked with a chisel. The contents of 
the small side-drawers letters, invitations, rubbers, pen 
cils, visiting-cards and dust lay piled in an indecent mass 
on his writing-pad. Lambert flicked the heap with his 
fingers, and opened the top left-hand drawer. All his diaries 
had gone. He pulled out the second drawer where he kept 
his dress studs and links and a cigarette-case that the Mar- 
lows had given him in New York. They were all there, 
boxed and secure. Lambert looked in the bottom drawer 
where he kept his passport and personal papers: they were 
still neatly stacked and undisturbed, but an album of photo 
graphs which he had taken in America had disappeared. 

He poured himself a glass of whisky and was about to 
light a cigarette when the curtain stirred and he jumped to 
his feet and dashed it aside. The window, slightly ajar, was 
as he had left it days ago. He walked into the dining-room 
and stirred with his foot a wastepaper basket that had been 
upturned and its contents combed and scattered. 

In the drawing-room he telephoned the porter. "Did any 
body want me?" he asked. "Any messages?" 

"No, sir," said the porter. "Nobody except now." 

"I don't understand you. . . ." 

"Well. Your two friends. Mrs. Coles let them in about an 
hour ago before she went out. They asked if you were in, 
and they said they'd wait. The two who just went . . ." 

"I see. Thank you very much." 

Lambert began to pick up the letters and papers and to 
close the drawers. His address-book had fallen near his desk 
and lay open at the letter "C." Cartwright. Peter Cart- 
wright. He was at the Treasury now, and although they 
didn't see each other often, they had been close friends 
during the war. They had even shared a room at the Albergo 
Reale in Pisa for six weeks. Peter Cartwright. The name 

147 



was like a familiar landmark in a miasma. He dialled his 
number. 

"Hello, Peter/' he said. "This is Martin Martin 

Lambert," 

"Hello, Martin," said Cartwright, relaxed, unhurried, 
his voice plummy and gagged. "How are you?" 

"I'm fine. Have you eaten yet?" 

"Good lord, yes. It's nearly ten. What strange habits . . ." 

"Are you doing anything?" 

"Frankly yes. I'm . . . Well, never mind about that. 
Tell me, Martin I hear you've been tangling with 
Baggott. . . ." 

"How do you know?" 

"How do I know? Everyone knows. It's all over London. 
The place is humming. You've become a classic reference." 

"What about a drink later on?" 

"I can 't I'm tied up. ... What's all this about you 
being suspended, Martin?" 

"It's quite true." 

"My word, what's the F.O. coming to. . . ." 

"Shall we have dinner next week at the Allegretto?" 

"Hold on, Martin. I'll look at my diary." 

Lambert heard the pages turning. 

"No next week's no good," said Cartwright. "Absolutely 
full." 

"What about lunch?" 

Cartwright's voice became precise. "Never lunch out 
nowadays the Budget's only six months away." 

"And dinner the week after. . . ?" 

He heard Cartwright's uneasy cough. "I'll give you a 
ring, Martin. How would that be?" 

"That would be excellent. Right ho, Peter." 

"Cheerio, Martin/' 

148 



Lambert gathered up a letter that had slid into the fire 
place. It was an angry, protesting letter that Eleanore had 
sent him a year ago. He was about to tear it in two, but 
instead threw it into the disorder of the other papers on the 
bureau desk. 



X 



"THE FOREIGN OFFICE," said Fergusson, taking the platter 
of cheese from Valerie's hand and scooping out a portion 
of Stilton, "has always been torn between the Gothic and 
the Venetian. There was a most awful row about the design 
of the Office in 1860. The Goths wanted the pinnacled 
gloom of neo-Pugin, and the Venetians protested that the 
Middle Ages was a time of superstition and immorality. 
Lord Palmerston was a Venetian. He told Sir Gilbert Scott 
that what he wanted was a palace, not a monastery." 

He sipped a glass of port through his cheese, and went on, 
"Fortunately, the Venetians won. The original Gothic 
facade was sent to some railway hotel at St. Pancras, I 
believe where it still dispirits the parting traveller. . . ." 

"Palladio ..." Valerie began. 

"Mind you," said Fergusson, "the Venetians flattered 
themselves and our climate. No sane person would com 
pare the Foreign Office with San Giorgio Maggiore or the 
Capucine Church or the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. 
But still it's got the windows the arch on the entabla 
tures the pilasters at the sides. All it lacks is sunlight and 
space. Space it's the Northern substitute for sunlight. 
Inigo Jones knew that . . ." 

He reflected for a few moments, and Valerie watched him 
patiently. 

150 



'I'm against the sad life," said Fergusson. "I'm for the 
Renaissance and the Mediterranean and the Italian Adri 
atic. There's no other West. The East begins on the Rhine. 
Mark you, Valerie, it needn't have done. The Germans 
were all right as long as they lived in principalities and stuck 
to chamber music and charades. They were ruined by 
Hegel." . 

Valerie knew the progress from that exordium, and com 
posed herself to think of other matters. 

"You see," said Fergusson. "They were getting along very 
nicely with Goethe and Schiller and Lessing when along 
came this fellow Hegel and said that whatever's real is 
rational and whatever's rational is real that liberty is 
order and order is liberty and that once you interconnect 
the parts of society, you've established the means to all 
good the State. . . . The next step was to say that the 
German State was the manifestation of the world-spirit 
and if the world-spirit said it was all right, well it was. 
Hegel is the original anti-liberal, the father of all totali 
tarianism." 

Fergusson's face became red and angry. 

"I'm glad to say that when our Reform Bill was passed 
it made him ill. What did Barraclough have to say to you?" 

The familiar name impinged on her thought of Lambert 
driving his car through the darkness, and she raised her head 
abruptly. 

"Colonel Barraclough," she said, "is a silly little man. He 
sat in the study talking about Oxford and French literature. 
. . . And every now and again asking me questions about 
Martin. So stupid! He tried to slip them in as a sort of after 
thought as if I wouldn't notice." 

"What sort of questions?" Fergusson asked. 

"Oh how long had I known Martin which of his 
friends I knew whether he often came to see us did I 



know Eleanore had Martin ever mentioned his domestic 
problems. I simply couldn't bear him. Besides, he's got hair 
in his ears." 

Fergusson began to rise, and Valerie rose simultaneously. 

"There was one other thing he wanted to know/' she 
said. 

"What was that?" 

"Something quite extraordinary . . ." 

Fergusson waited. 

"He asked me whether I knew if Martin had ever 
borrowed money from you." 

"What did you say?" 

"I said I had no idea. I haven't. Has Martin ever bor 
rowed money from you?" 

Fergusson crumpled his napkin on the table, and said, 
"As a matter of fact yes, he has. Last year. He repaid it." 

"Oh!" 

"Don't look shocked. . . ." 

"I'm not not a bit." 

"He needed money suddenly to pay for his wife's illness 
and her debts. He was in great difficulties, and I was glad 
to help him." 

Valerie went up to him, and linked her arm in his. 

"You're awfully kind, Daddy. Really you are." 

"You're quite wrong, Valerie," Fergusson answered, walk 
ing with her across the hall to his study. "Behind my 
amiable exterior . . ." 

"It isn't amiable, it's grumpy . . ." 

"Well, at any rate behind my exterior, there's a reso 
lute, hard-headed thinker." 

"That means you're going to suggest something un 
pleasant!" 

"Not really. . . . How would you like it if we moved 
to town?" 

"To London?" 

152 



"Yes, London." 

Her eyes became bright with pleasure. At the word 
"London," she saw herself entering the foyer at Covent 
Garden with Lambert, and then taking their seats in the 
sixth row of the stalls, accompanied by trills of flutes and 
discords of strings, the rattle of music-stands and the oceanic 
stir of the great auditorium. He would help her off with 
her coat and the lights would go out, those in the boxes 
last of all, leaving a hemisphere of silhouettes against the red 
background. 

"It would be wonderful," she said. "Absolutely wonder 
ful Are you really serious?" she asked him. 

"Incipiently serious," he answered. "I thought at one 
time that it would be pleasant for us to be alone together in 
the country." 

"It is," she said quickly. "I love being with you." 

"Yes, I know I know. But it's dull It's deadly dull. I 
shouldn't have kept you at home this year. That was selfish 
of me. . . ." 

"Oh, no, it wasn't. I wanted to stay." 

"I should have sent you to France on some University 
course or to a pension for girls." 

"If you'd sent me to a pension for girls, I'd have died. I 
do wish you wouldn't worry about me. I'm perfectly happy. 
When would we move to London?" 

"Not for a long time," said Fergusson, stretching himself 
in his arm-chair. "I'd have to find somewhere to live and 
then sell Felling and get a housekeeper. Moving when 
you're over sixty is a major act of surgery!" He frowned and 
added, "I hope you're not going to become impatient, 
Valerie. I must think it out rather more clearly. What else 
did Barraclough say?" 

Valerie brought him a tray with a syphon of soda and a 
decanter of whisky. 

"Oh, I don't know," she answered. The unfolding film 

153 



of her evening at the ballet had stopped in a sudden black 
ness. "He asked me if I was interested in politics." 

"Oh? And what did you tell him?" 

"I told him I was passionately keen on politics. And he 
said, ' Young Liberal?' and I said, 'No Kropotkin- 
Anarchist.' " 

Fergusson smiled, finished his whisky, and said, "I'm 
going to bed. Don't stay up too late." 

"Daddy," said Valerie. 

"Yes?" 

She jabbed at a smouldering log with a pair of tongs. 

"Is Martin in some kind of trouble?" 

"Why do you ask?" 

She went and sat in front of him with her hands clasped 
over her knees. 

"I want to know there's something wrong anyone can 
tell that. All this to-ing and fro-ing, and Barraclough prob 
ing and questioning. ... He was over half an hour with 
you!" 

"I was beginning to fear I'd have to ask him to 
lunch. . . ." 

"I wish you had. I would have given him a pork sausage 
rechauffe with corked claret. Odious man! Why did 
he ... ?" 

"He's not interested in us, Valerie. He's after Martin." 

"But why? What's he done?" 

Fergusson didn't answer. 

"What has he done?" Valerie repeated. 

"Quite frankly, Valerie," Fergusson answered, "I don't 
know. All that I can tell you is that he's in trouble fright 
ful trouble. And Eleanore's an added complication. If it 
hadn' t been for her I" 

Fergusson shrugged his shoulders. "She's anchored him 
when he should have been on the high seas, and driven him 

154 



into storms when he should have been in harbour. If you can 
imagine an ideal wife for a diplomat and then think of the 
opposite . . ." 

And Valerie thought to herself that love is like having 
a tooth drilled, but the opposite. 

"But what has she done in particular?" she asked. "What 
sort of things? Do please tell me. I'm so anxious to under 
stand." 

"Well, it's a sordid story. You can't know, Valerie, how 
degrading it is for a man or for a woman, I suppose, for 
that matter to have to smile and pretend it's nothing when 
their spouses are making public exhibitions of them 
selves. . . ." 

"But why can't he do something about it?" 

"It's no good. You're caught both ways. A man with a 
wife like Eleanore if he protests, she'll always get the 
better of a scene. If he's silent, he's taken for a complaisant 
husband. And in the end, that's what he becomes. He 
acquiesces for the sake of not peace, he never gets that 
appeasement. That's it appeasement. And all he gets is a 
pair of horns." 

"Oh, Daddy, how beastly!" 

She looked at her father with distaste. 

"I'm sorry, Valerie. But those are the facts. There's no 
such thing as a dignified cocu. Lambert should have kicked 
her out the first time with that American. . . ." 

"Don't tell me. I don't want to know." 

"I'm not going to tell you anything. You asked me." 

"I know. I wanted to hear all about Martin. But I 
can't bear to think of him being connected with anything 
horrid." 

"Well, there it is. We all can imagine ideally how we'd 
like to live our lives. Heaven knows I did thirty years ago. 
I had it all planned out the men and women I liked, the 

155 



wife I wanted, the place where I'd live, the job I'd do and 
all the books I'd read. And instead, I married three times, 
and never I'm sorry to tell you this Valerie never hap 
pily. I Ve moved during my career in a society of expatriates, 
refugees and remittance-men. The only job I passionately 
wanted, I didn't get. And if you look in that case, you'll see 
that the books on the second shelf are all uncut." 

"Martin . . ." 

"When you're twenty, you know how you're going to 
master life. And then, all of a sudden . . ." Fergusson 
traced the intrusion in the air with his finger. "It's not you 
who are in control. It's you who are being pushed around 
. . . lashed by invisible spirits.' " 

Valerie looked at her father, and he smiled back. 

"Goethe," he said in explanation. " 'Lashed by invisible 
spirits, all we can do is steer the chariot, now right, now left, 
from the abysses that gape before us' !" 

"I don't like that a bit," she said. "I want to feel that . . ." 

"I know, Valerie," said Fergusson. "You are perfectly 
right. Take no notice of my senile despondency. All this 
grew out of my thoughts on Martin." 

"Poor Martin!" said Valerie. 

"Don't be too sorry for him," her father said abruptly. 

"Why not?" 

"Why not? Because . . . well, we all create our troubles 
in our own particular way. And Martin has chosen his 
particular form of trouble for himself. He should have 
finished with Eleanore years ago. ... I would prefer it, 
Valerie, if you didn't discuss Martin's problems with any 
one and particularly not with him." 

"Why?" she asked defensively. 

"I don't want you to. ... It's not suitable. ... I don't 
want you to. . . . He's had his youth." 

He left the room without bidding her "Good-night." 

156 



When her father had closed the door, Valerie, settling her 
self in the arm-chair in front of the fire, began to read at 
hazard in the Anthologie des Poetes Frangais du XlXeme 
Siecle which Lambert had given her the day after his ar 
rival. The first line that attracted her attention was: 

"J'ai plus de souvenirs que si j'avais mille ans. . . /' 

She read it aloud, and relished its regrets. 

The words were in tune with her mood and she repeated 
them. But when she began to make her memories more 
precise, all that she could recall was the dreariness of school 
and examinations and Miss Fretts and the uncertainties of 
holidays, disappointments at gymkhanas, the grief when 
her mother died and the day Lambert walked with her in 
the walled garden. Her recollections were few, and even 
those farthest away seemed close and recent and partic 
ular. 

Having failed in the process of identification, she put the 
book down and took from the salver on the occasional table 
a letter, with an Italian stamp, addressed to Lambert. The 
airmail envelope crinkled in her hand, and she turned it 
over with pleasure. It was fitting, somehow, that Martin's 
letter should come from abroad, and be addressed to 
Inghilterra. "Inghilterra," made England, too, seem a 
mysterious, romantic place, and she wondered if, seen from 
Italy, England might be for some people a place of longing 
and aspiration. Manchester, Swansea, Cirencester, Birming 
ham, Felling. It wouldn't do. Genoa, Palermo, Viareggio, 
Perugia. Those were poems. Like St. Blaise. Like the Zuecca. 

"A Saint-Blaise, a la Zuecca 
Vous etiez, vous etiez bien aise, 
A Saint-Blaise. 
A Saint-Blaise, a la Zuecca 
Nous etions bien la . . ." 

157 



She didn't know where the Zuecca was, but she as 
sociated it with Musset and Lambert. 

"Mais de vous en souvenir 
Prendrez-vous la peine? 
Mais de vous en souvenir 
Et d'y revenir . . . 

Dans les pres fleuris cueillir la verveine? 
A Saint-Blaise, a la Zuecca, 
Vivre et mourir la!" 

And the thought o the flowering meadows on the Zuecca 
mingled with her yearning to see Lambert again; and she 
closed her anthology, listening for the sound of the car as it 
climbed the hill in second gear, and the click of the first 
gate. 

"Anything else, miss?" said Margaret, closing the window 
bolts. 

"No, nothing at all," said Valerie. "Good-night, Mar 
garet." 

"You staying up?" Margaret persisted. 

"I'm waiting for Mr. Lambert," Valerie answered. 

'Til wait up if you like, miss," said Margaret. 

"No thank you, that's quite all right." 

"Thought so!" 

"What's that?" 

"Nothing, miss." 

The telephone had begun to ring in an insistent, agitated 
peal Valerie jumped to her feet, but Margaret anticipated 
her and lifted the receiver. 

"Yes," she said. "That's right!" 

"Who is it?" Valerie asked at her elbow. 

"That's right!" said Margaret into the telephone. 

"Who is it?" Valerie asked at her elbow. "Is it Mr. 
Lambert?" 

158 



Margaret, frowning, shook her head and put her hand 
over the mouthpiece. 

"It isn't Mr. Lambert/' she said, hissing, "it's someone 
wants him." 

Valerie took the telephone from her hand, and said 
crisply, "This is Felling 420 whom- do you want?" 

The line crackled, and a voice with a foreign intonation 
asked, "Can Mr. Lambert take a call from Rome?" 

"Rome!" she echoed. 

"Hello!" the voice repeated. "Is Mr. Lambert available 
to take a call from Rome?" 

And then the voice faded and spoke in Italian before it 
returned and said, "Is Mr. Lambert available. . . ?" 

"No," said Valerie. "I'm fearfully sorry. Mr. Lambert 
isn't here. . . . Can I take a message?" She turned to Mar 
garet and said, "Don't bother to wait, Margaret." 

Margaret left the room, talking to herself. 

"One moment please," said the voice. "Rome. Rome. 
Hello, Rome. Don't go away Felling. . . . Hello, 
Rome . . ." 

"Hello," said Valerie. She sat on the table and waited, 
with her heart thumping, for the reply. She had never 
spoken on a continental trunk call before. 

"Hello, Felling," the voice said. "Here it is!" 

A woman's voice, calm and low-pitched and English 
followed. 

"Is that Felling 420?" 

"Yes," said Valerie. "Who's speaking?" 

"This is Eleanore Lambert." 

Valerie smoothed her hair from her face, and said, "Good- 
evening, this is Valerie Fergusson. Can I help you?" 

"I wanted to talk to my husband." 

"He isn't here, I'm afraid," Valerie answered. Across the 
telephone wire, from hundreds of miles away, the mo 
mentary stop in Eleanore's breathing, followed by the 

159 



quickening in her voice, gave Valerie a sense of victory. She 
slid from the table into the arm-chair, at ease now and ready 
to prolong the conversation. She hated Eleanore's cold, 
insolent voice, pursuing her husband across Europe, search 
ing him out in possessive self-assurance into the very room 
where he had found refuge. 

"Could you tell me when he'll be available?'' Eleanore's 
voice was controlled and patient. 

"I'm afraid I couldn't tell you," Valerie said calmly. "He 
left this morning . . ." 

"Left?" 

". . . and he didn't say when he was coming back." 

"I see." 

There was a pause, and Valerie listened to Eleanore's 
breathing at the other end of the line. She had the feeling 
that if Eleanore were to put the instrument to her breast 
like a stethoscope, she would hear a quaver. Eleanore spoke 
more slowly: "Has he gone back to London?" 

"I really . . ." Valerie began, and the telephone went 
dead. "Hello!" she called. "Hello!" and getting no answer, 
replaced the receiver. 

"Here, Fausto!" she said to the setter, stretched, somno 
lent in front of the fire. The dog rose obediently, shook it 
self, and sauntered towards her with an idle stirring of its 
tail. 

"How strange!" Valerie said to herself. "How very 
strange!" 

She fondled the dog's ears, and visualised the face, famil 
iar from the Taller photograph, that had so often eyed her 
when she had looked at Martin's picture in her drawer. She 
imagined her, chill in her anger, frustrated by her failure 
to reach Martin, indignant at the interruption in her call, 
flicking the receiver and rebuking the operator. A few 
seconds later the telephone rang again and Valerie watched 

160 



the inert ivory-coloured instrument as the bell rang and 
echoed and rang and echoed. If it rang ten times, she would 
pick it up. Seven pause eight pause nine pause 
ten pause eleven . . . She raised the receiver and said, 
'Telling 420." 

"Hold on, please. . . . You were cut off/ 7 said the 
operator's voice, distant, ebbing and strengthening. "You're 
through now/' 

"Hello ... we were cut off," Eleanore's voice had be 
come thick. "Are you there?" she added anxiously. 

"Yes, I'm here," said Valerie. Fausto had climbed onto 
her lap, spreading himself grandly in sleep, and she rested 
the telephone on his spine. 

"Could you tell me when Mr, Lambert will be back?" 
Eleanore asked. Her voice was imperative, and Valerie 
answered brusquely: 

"I'm sorry, I've no idea. Not for a few months I 
shouldn't think." 

There was a pause. 

"Has he gone to London?" 

"I couldn't say." 

"Is your father at home?" 

"Yes." 

"May I speak to him?" 

"I'm sorry he's gone to bed. He never speaks on the 
telephone after ten. . . . Have you tried Mr. Lambert's 
flat?" 

Eleanore didn't answer, and Valerie waited for her to 
speak. 

"If Mr. Lambert rings," she said at last, " oh, never 
mind." 

"Is there any message?" 

"No. Nothing." Her voice faded. "Thank you very much. 
... I hope I haven't disturbed your father." 

161 



"Oh, no," said Valerie. "He sleeps like a log." 

She heard the receiver in Rome fall gently onto its 
pedestal, and simultaneously she pushed Fausto onto the 
floor. Then she took the letter from the salver, switched 
off all the lights except those in the hall and at the postern- 
gate, unlatched the entrance-door, and ran at top speed 
up the stairs to her room. As soon as she got inside, she 
turned on the lamp, bolted the door and flung herself face 
downwards on the bed, clutching the crumpled letter be 
neath her. Again the poignant surge of pleasure and she 
squeezed her eyes tightly in the enclosing night of her 
pillow. "Could you tell me when Mr, Lambert will be 
back?" "I'm sorry, I've no idea." She could hear Eleanore's 
voice, and repeated the answer. It wasn't a lie; it was a half- 
lie a half-lie to protect Martin. "Could you tell me when 
Mr. Lambert will be back?" "Not for a few months." That 
was a lie. Not for months, not for years, not for ages. Never 
for you. It would have been better if he'd left her years 
ago. Her father had said so. Gradually, her breathing be 
came normal, and she looked out from the pillow with one 
eye as if she expected to find someone observing her in 
the room itself. 

She climbed from the bed and drew the curtain. Every 
thing was quiet, the woods, the fields, the isolated cottages 
at the approach to the village, and the two gates, barely 
visible in the flush of light from her father's window. She 
waited for a few minutes, staring down the road towards 
the canal, till, suddenly, with a shiver, she threw the en 
velope onto the table, and began to brush her hair. 

The handwriting was firm and square-shaped. From the 
start she had thought it was from Eleanore, and now that 
she had spoken to her in Rome, Valerie was certain. Martin 
Lambert. She imagined Eleanore writing the name, not as 

162 



the designation of a stranger, but as her title to his posses 
sion. Long ago two years ago she herself had written to 
Lambert when he had sent her an illustrated copy of 
Mansfield Park. (She moved the lamp so that it threw deep 
shadows under her chin, and nose and eyes, and she brushed 
her hair back at the sides behind her ear, wondering 
whether he would prefer it if she had it cut short.) 

"Dear Mr. Lambert/' she had written. And before she 
sent it, she copied it out three times, and showed the final 
draft to her father. "Dear Mr. Lambert, It was so very kind 
of you to send me Mansfield Park. Jane Austen is my 
favourite author. I had all her novels with the exception of 
Mansfield Park, and I am looking forward most awfully to 
reading it. I believe they are 'doing it' " she was proud of 
the inverted commas around 'doing it' "for advanced. 

Daddy and I both hope you will soon come and see us 
again. 

Yours sincerely, 
Valerie Fergusson." 

And for weeks, till she returned to school, she had 
watched the post each day in the hope that somehow the 
book and her letter marked the beginning of a prolonged 
correspondence. But nothing happened. Out of habit she 
looked each morning in the post for his handwriting, some 
times asking her father, usually without success, about 
Lambert where he was, when he would come again, what 
he was doing. 

After she had brushed her hair, she smeared her face with 
a complexion-food which she had bought by post from an 
advertiser in Beauty. She rubbed -the cream in with her 
finger-tips, clockwise and counter-clockwise as instructed, 
till her cheeks glowed with grease. Her inspection of her 

163 



shining face displeased her, and she dried it with paper- 
tissues, and hastily covered the glistening surface with 
powder. 

"Now," she said to her reflection, "you look like a ghost." 
It was past eleven, and while waiting for Lambert, she 
decided that she would write him a letter. To begin with, she 
tried the door in order to make sure that it was locked. 
Then she took off her blouse and skirt, and put on her blue 
dressing gown that hung behind the door. As if performing 
a rite, she placed her hairbrushes on the right-hand side 
of the table and her pots of cream and lotions on the left. 
From the top drawer, she took out a writing-pad and her 
fountain-pen, thought for a few moments, and wrote with 
out pause till she had finished. 

"Dear darling Martin, darling, darling Martin, I am writ 
ing this to you in my bedroom. Everyone has gone to sleep, 
and I am waiting for you to come back. I am writing this to 
tell you that all day long I've been longing and yearning to 
see you again. Ever since you came here last, I have woken up 
every day and wondered if by some wonderful miracle you 
would come back again. When I saw you, I could hardly 
speak and wanted to sit down. And you were just as I re 
membered you when you walked with me and gave me the 
wistaria from the bush. 

Darling Martin, I know all this sounds terribly, terribly 
silly, but I have to write you this so that you will know that 
I love you. You will think perhaps that I do not know my 
mind. Oh, Martin, please, please, please believe that I do. 
I have thought and thought of you for years, and remem 
bered how it was when you held my hand when we walked 
in the garden. It was exactly the same when you held my 
hand in the library, and whatever happens, dearest, dearest 
Martin, I want you to know that I could never feel for any- 

164 



one what I feel for you. I love you, and I will never love 
anyone else in the world but you. I know that you may 
think this letter stupid and schoolgirlish, but I can't help 
it. I do so want you to know what an awful ache I have when 
you are not here, and how when you come back, everything 
is well again. 

And sometimes I wish that the whole world hated you so 
that I could be the only one in the world who loved you. 
This morning Colonel Barraclough asked me all sorts of 
questions and wanted me to tell him what I thought about 
you. And I wanted to tell him that you are the most won 
derful person in the world and that I loved you. But I 
didn't tell him that. I only said that I thought you were 
very nice. I know that you are in great trouble. Daddy 
told me. I don't care what it is all about. I would love you 
if you were a murderer. 

Dear, dear, darling Martin, I send you all my love." 

She tightened the belt of her dressing gown, and leaning 
over the page again, signed it, "Valerie." Having done so, 
she gathered up the six blue pages of her writing-paper, 
read the letter slowly again, folded it in two, and then care 
fully tore it into tiny pieces that she heaped together in a 
large, glass ashtray. A fragment fell fluttering to the ground, 
and she gathered it up. Written on it were the words "love 
you if," and she tore it horizontally so that the letters were 
finally disfigured, before placing the confetti in the tray. 

For the next five minutes, she burnt the pieces, lighting 
match after match, till the pyre turned to ash, and her letter 
was obliterated. 

Valerie lay in the dark with her eyes wide open, waiting 
for the sweep of headlights across the room, the sound of 
crushed gravel and the slam of the motor-car door. To resist 

165 



the tidal drag of sleep, she had placed her bare arm, 
martyred by the cold night air, on the counterpane. If he 
asked her whether there had been any telephone calls for 
him, she would say "No." Eleanore had abused his kindness 
and forbearance and smudged his prospect of happiness. 
And she, herself, had merely defended him against his 
inability to wound even people like Eleanore who tried to 
destroy him. 

She drew her chilled hand under the covers and warmed 
it against her body. She wondered what Eleanore had 
wanted. Only to worry and harass him of that she was 
certain. Perhaps if he knew, he'd be angry. The surge of 
defiance was followed by a sinking into doubt. Perhaps 
Eleanore had wanted to tell him something for his benefit. 
But that was impossible. Her father had described Eleanore 
as an incubus. "She's got her claws into him/' he had said, 
"and won't let him go. She doesn't want anyone else to 
have him. She's the sort of woman who can only enjoy being 
unfaithful to her husband when she's on good terms with 
him." 

She hated her father when he spoke like that; and yet it 
was true. Why didn't Eleanore leave Martin alone? Why? 

Her doubt was replaced by triumph. She was glad she'd 
told Eleanore that Martin couldn't be reached. She gazed 
around at the room, now mottled with moonlight, and her 
glance rested on the airmail envelope, a shadow on the 
glittering top of her dressing table. She wished she could 
know exactly what Martin and Eleanore signified to each 
other. How could anyone know the truth, the real truth, 
the private truth, the pillow-truth that was it, the pillow- 
truth when the door is locked and your face is shut in the 
pillow and you confess the truth to yourself? 

She got out of bed, put on her dressing gown, and went 

166 



to the window. The hills and pond were lit with a steel- 
blue light, and the village was fringed with a greyish 
penumbra of meadows. After looking out for several 
minutes, Valerie drew the curtains again, switched on the 
dressing-table lamp and began to brush her hair again, 
determined to keep awake till Lambert returned. Tired, at 
last, of the repetitive strokes, she put down the brush and 
picked up the letter, and began to wonder idly if it was a 
long letter or a short note. She felt it, and pressed its upper 
and lower edges till it bulged convexly, and the sealed flap 
split a little in the right-hand corner. A twitch of excitement 
passed through her body, and she held the envelope to the 
light. 

With the back of the comb, she began to ease open the 
envelope. The twitch changed to an agonising sense of guilt 
and shame. The flap yielded, and she pressed the comb 
harder against the adhesive. The envelope tore, the distance 
of about half an inch. Desperately, like someone surrender 
ing to a resisted vice, she tore the whole flap away from the 
envelope and fumbled the sheet of paper from its pouch. 
Her hands were shaking violently and she put the letter 
on the table, and rested her hot face in the palms of her 
hands as she read. 

"Martin dear, 

You will probably be surprised to get this letter from 
Rome surprised, that is, if it reaches you before I 'phone. 
I left Bandol last Wednesday, and flew here from Nice. Dr. 
Fourneaux told me I could have gone several weeks ago, 
but I wanted to be sure that everything was all right. I paid 
him the 200 that you sent me, and explained to him that 
you were getting permission from the Treasury to send 
him the balance. He was very kind and helpful, and re- 

167 



assuring. It was his idea that I should go to Rome for a few 
weeks before going home, and I am writing this from the 
Hotel Regina. I'm sorry to worry you with something very 
practical, but if you could send me, say, 100, it would be a 
great help. 

I am feeling so much better. I don't see anyone, and don't 
want to. Yesterday, I went by train to Ostia and swam and 
lay on the beach and thought and thought about us, Martin, 
wondering what went wrong ..." 

Valerie turned the page over with her finger-tips as if by 
that delicacy she might minimise her offence. 

". . . and how it was that our love and happiness came 
to ruin when it had all been so lovely and perfect. 

The leaves are falling in the Pincio Gardens, but the sun 
is still hot. I walked this morning down the alley-way of 
statues that you liked so much, and remembered the first 
time we were together in Rome. And I wished I could tear 
away all the years and the happenings that have come be 
tween us. I wished I could ask your pardon," a few words 
were crossed out here, "the many wrongs that I have done 
you in the last few years, and that you perhaps since you 
are proud and stubborn, might think that it wasn't all my 
fault not all and that you too might have had some part 
in the unhappiness we shared. 

I went to the children's fountain by the cypress trees, and 
watched them playing, and knew then I was cured. Be 
cause all I felt was affection and love and warmth. 

When I telephone you, I want to ask you, Martin, to let 
me come home. Please, please, darling Martin, let me come 
home. I'm so tired of nursing-homes and hotels. I want to 
be with you again, and to wake up at last from all my 
nightmares. 

And if I end this letter by saying that I love you, don't 

168 



look cold and hostile. I love you, Martin. And that is the 
only truth. 

Eleanore." 

Valerie finished reading the letter, and stared at her 
image in the looking-glass. 

"What an awful thing to have done!" she said aloud. 
"How terrible!" 

Hearing the rattle of the first gate being unlatched, she 
switched off the light, stuffed the letter into the top drawer, 
and leapt into bed, still wearing her dressing gown. There 
she lay listening to the sequence of the sounds of Lambert's 
arrival. 

"I feel sick," she said to herself, and soon afterwards fell 
asleep. 



XI 



THE CLANK AND scrape of a shovel on the stone terrace, 
mingled with a hiss of scattering sand, woke Valerie at 
half past eight. For a few seconds, she lay looking at the 
opaque traceries of frost on the window, at ease in the 
thought that Lambert had returned and that she was now 
delivered from her anxieties of the evening before. Her 
tweed dress, spread over an arm-chair, and her suit with 
the green velvet collar, hanging outside the wardrobe, were 
the alternatives in the insistent question of which would 
please him more. She visualised herself in each, and re 
jected the dress because he had seen her in it twice already. 

"Hello, Caz," she called out from the window to the 
Polish tractor-driver. "What's it like?" 

He stopped shovelling the sand from his wheelbarrow, 
bowed and said, his breath making patterns in the crisp air, 
"Very icy, Miss Valerie. Glassy. You must be careful." 

He waved in the direction of the sun that divided the 
landscape into two sections, one where its rays had dispersed 
the morning mist and remained corruscating over the green, 
and the other enclosing the woods in a thin haze. 

"It will be very beautiful today/' he said. 

"Yes, it's going to be lovely," Valerie replied. She wanted 
to be bathed and dressed so that she could see Lambert as 
soon as possible. But when she glimpsed the letter from Italy 

170 



in her half -open drawer, she closed it hastily and waited for 
minutes before she dared open it to take out her hair 
brushes. 

"Have you seen Mr. Lambert?" she asked Margaret. 

"In his room/' the maid replied. 

"No, he isn't there/' said Valerie. "I looked." 

"I suppose you would," said Margaret, laying the table. 

"Has he had breakfast?" Valerie asked. 

"Not here he hasn't," said Margaret. "He was sulky, like, 
this morning. Read the papers, and left them all over the 
room. You want your breakfast?" 

"No. Do you know if he went out?" 

"How would I know?" Margaret answered, her small eyes 
indifferent. "Meals are all times here. . . ." 

"He must have gone out," said Valerie. She went towards 
the door, and Margaret called after her, "What about your 
breakfast? I can't stand over the gas-stove all day." 

Mumbling to herself, she began to prepare the tray for 
Fergusson's breakfast in bed. 

"I brought you some apples, miss," said the tractor- 
driver, bowing as Valerie stood on the stone steps looking 
anxiously across the fields. She didn't answer, and he re 
peated, "Some apples, miss. I picked them for you in the 
orchard." 

He took the heavy basket that hung from a handle of his 
wheelbarrow, and gave it to her. 

"Oh yes thanks awfully," she said, putting the basket 
on the top step. "Have you seen Mr. Lambert?" 

Disappointed by her casual reception of his gift, the Pole 
bowed again, and said stiffly, "I saw him ten minutes ago. He 
had your father's gun." 

"My father's gun? What do you mean?" 

171 



"He was going shooting." 

Again she scanned the brown and green landscape, 
straining her eyes in the direction of the mist. 

"Did he say where he was going, Caz? What did he say to 
you?" 

He had begun again to scatter sand over the icy terrace in 
slow sweeps like a scytheman. 

"He didn't tell me where he was going," he answered 
without looking at her. "He didn't speak to me. Here I am 
only a tractor-driver. In Poland . . ." 

But she had already hurried down to the iron fence 
bounding the gravel drive from the first field. 

"Martin!" she called. "Martin!" 

She climbed the bars, and began to walk over the frost- 
hardened clods of the field towards the copse just visible 
above the horizon. She walked gingerly, wishing that she 
had been wearing lower heels. 

"Martin!" she called. "Martin!" Her voice carried lightly 
over the slopes of the fields without reply, and a beginning 
of anxiety quickened her step. Sometimes her father used 
to go rabbiting in Piper's wood, and she decided that he 
had probably spoken to Lambert about it, and that Lam 
bert would follow the footpath that bordered the third 
meadow. But first she had to cross a soggy field of stubble, 
and the instep of her right shoe became clotted with a 
wedge of mud and squelched with each step that she took. 

"Martin!" she called towards the copse. "Martin!" and 
like a false echo, she heard her own name relayed by the 
tractor-driver from Margaret on the steps of the house: 
"Valer-ie! Miss Valer-ie!" 

She began to run, driven on by the image of the gun, the 
precise centre of an amorphous fear. Suddenly, the reason 
why Martin had taken the gun had become clear to her. Not 
for rabbiting. Not for sport. Not for pleasure. But for 

172 



something unspeakably horrible. Her feet sank into a rut 
and she tripped and sank on one knee, tearing her stocking. 
She picked herself up and started running down the slippery 
grass field towards the birch copse that sprawled like a black 
and silver promontory into the fields. 

"Martin!" she called again. "Martin! Martin! Martin!" 

She had taken his letter. She had prevented him from 
talking to his wife. She had lied and lied and lied. Martin! 
She said to herself as she ran, "Please, God; please, God; 
please, God. Please let him not do anything to himself, and 
I'll tell him everything and beg his forgiveness, and never, 
never do anything like it again. Never." And the image of a 
hideous, bloody mess like the head of a rabbit blasted by a 
shotgun drove her on. 

"Martin!" she tried to call, but only a strange mew came 
from her constricted throat, unfamiliar, terrifying. She had 
begun to weep, and the wind smeared her tears over her 
face. She fell again, and this time, lay with grass and earth 
pressed against her face waiting for the sound of a shot. 
"Please, God, no," she said. "Please no." 

She could see the gun on its bracket which she had ob 
served a thousand times with indifference. She remembered 
her father cleaning it. And the gun itself became personal 
and hateful in her memory. Everything connected with it, 
including her father, seemed hateful. And she remembered 
the day she had told Lambert that her father had cleaned the 
gun for him; and that she too was guilty. 

She got up and began to run, hobbling across the last field 
that led to the wood. Her leg was hurting; all she could see 
was the blur of the trees; and the wind caked the mud on her 
hands into a hard clay. 

"Martin!" she called. "Martin!" 

When she was about thirty yards from the copse, a single 
shot, abrupt and brutal, exploded in the air, accompanied 



by a tumult of birds disturbed from the trees. The echoes 
vibrated like the sounds of a broken string till they settled 
and faded in silence. Valerie stopped, wiped her eyes with 
the back of her hand, and said, "Oh, God!" She took her 
glasses from her pocket, put them on, and began to walk 
slowly towards the spur of the wood. 

At that moment, Fausto came leaping across the grass, 
followed by Lambert with the gun under his arm. 

"Hello, Valerie," said Lambert. "I've been firing a 
salute." 

She took off her glasses and said, without looking at him, 
"Hello, Martin. I came to tell you breakfast's ready. Get 
down, Fausto!" 

Lambert stood in front of her and said, observing the 
mud on her suit and the drying tears on her face, "I missed." 

She looked down at the wet leaves, and said, "I suppose 
you're out of practice. I didn't mean to disturb you." 

"I'm not out of practice," said Lambert, taking her arm, 
and walking around the wood, away from the house. "I 
always miss. The only reason I shoot is because I like the 
noise it makes." 

"That's what I loathe," said Valerie. "It's so irrevocable. 
First of all, there's silence. Then there's a frightful bang. 
And then you wait. . . . It's done. ..." 

"I know," said Lambert. "Nothing left but to pick up 
the feathers. Why've you been crying?" 

He stopped, and stacked his gun against the fence. Valerie 
turned her face away from him, as he stood in front of her. 

"I haven't been/' she said. 

"Yes, you have. . . ." 

"I haven't been. For heaven's sake . . ." 

Her nose and her forehead reddened, and her eyelids 
swam in tears as if they had been submerged in an eye-bath. 
Lambert waited for her to continue. 

174 



"I'm not crying," she said. "I got something in my eye 
when I was running. And don't stand there looking 
sadistic." 

"What's wrong, Valerie?" he asked her. 

She turned her back to him and burst into sobs, articulate 
and anguished. Lambert stood watching the back of her 
neck and her quivering shoulders, and, at last, put his hands 
beneath her elbows, and said, "Tell me what it's about" 

Her weeping gradually stopped, and she turned to him 
and said, "Oh, Martin, I'm so unhappy so terribly un 
happy." 

"Why?" he asked, and passed his fingers over her face 
and through her hair behind her ear. 

"I don't know," she said. "I'm unhappy about every 
thing about father and myself . . ." 

"Why are you unhappy about him?" 

"It's because he's so lonely and old and unhappy. And 
there's nothing I can do to help him except be with him 
and I can't do that always. . . . He's so old and pathetic." 

"I thought you liked it here. You once told me . . ." 

"I know I did. But it isn't true. I hate it. I can almost 
hear the years sounding like a clock. It's a beastly feel 
ing. . . ." 

"What else are you unhappy about?" 

"I'm unhappy about myself." 

"Why?" 

"I just think I'm loathesome." 

He lifted her chin to look into her face, but she wriggled 
it out of his hand. 

"What particular loathesome acts have you performed 
lately?" he asked. 

"Oh, all kinds," she said, and wiped her nose. "Tell me, 
Martin. If I were to do something very terrible . . ." 

"Murder?" 



"No, don't be silly. If I were to steal something, say, 
would you forgive me?" 

"Of course I would. What have you stolen?" 

"Nothing. . . . Would you forgive me if I did any 
thing ? T) 

"Almost anything." 

"What wouldn't you forgive?" 

Leaning on the fence, with his hands forming an en 
closure around Valerie, he thought for a few seconds and 
said, "I don't think I could forgive anyone not even you 
who betrayed me." 

"Betrayed," she repeated, looking over his shoulder at 
the sunlit fields. "What an old-fashioned word! What do 
you mean by it?" 

Lambert drew away from her. "I mean," he said, "that 
human relations are based on trust. It makes people pre 
dictable. If they betray one person's trust they betray every 
one." 

"I don't know," Valerie said slowly. "You always need 
two people to establish trust. And each person tries to 
interpret in his own way the meaning of that trust. It's 
private. It's got nothing to do with society. It's per 
sonal. . . . The only true judges of treachery are the 
people concerned." 

Valerie looked straight into Lambert's eyes, and went on, 
"For example ... if father knew I was standing here 
talking to you like this . . . he'd think I was breaking his 
trust in me." 

Lambert took her face in his hands. 

"It's innocuous. Isn't it?" 

Valerie looked back at him. "I don't know," she said. 
"Daddy wouldn't think so. But you see I don't think I'm 
breaking my faith with him. I think I know I'm sure I 
know that basically he wants my happiness. And what my 

176 



happiness is I know far better than he does." 

Lambert leaned back against the fence, drew her towards 
him, and spoke to her with her face against his. 

"Would you " he asked her, "would you leave your 
father even if it made him unhappy?" 

She thought for a few moments, and then said, "Yes. I'd 
leave him if I loved someone . . . and if I felt it was im 
portant and lasting. Is that a terrible thing to say?" 

"No, I'm sure that's right!" said Lambert. "Your father's 
had his youth." 

"That sounds like a quotation," said Valerie. "Daddy 
said it about someone else. . . . But anyhow we've all 
had our youth. Me, too. We all had it when the hydrogen 
bomb was invented. There aren't any young people any 
more. We've all become equally old, waiting for the bang." 

"You look very young for an old lady," said Lambert 

"Don't jeer at me, and don't be silly," said Valerie. 
"You've all made a mess of things . . ." 

"Who have?" 

"You have ... all of you. Daddy. The Prime Minister. 
Everyone. The people who could have done things after the 
war. And when we tell you it's your fault, you hide behind 
a kind of cynicism. . . . There aren't any young or old any 
more. Really not! There are only the ignorant and the 
informed." 

"The happy and the unhappy. Which are you?" 

"Neither. I'm just hovering. I've been trying to make my 
father happy." 

Lambert shrugged his shoulders. 

"Your father's an intelligent and moderately unselfish 
man. He wouldn't want to feed on your kindness merely 
because his own life went wrong!" 

"He isn't moderately unselfish," said Valerie. "He's very 
selfish and not very understanding." 

177 



"What would he say," Lambert asked, kissing her in front 
of her ear, "if you were to tell him that we were going for a 
month to Italy together?" 

"We?" 

"Yes you and I." 

Her eyes became bright with delight. 

"He'd have a fit," she said. 

"Well, say " said Lambert, and he kissed her from the 
lobe of her ear to the corner of her mouth. "Do you like 
that?" 

"Yes," she said, and the smile ebbed from her face. 

"Say you were to tell him," said Lambert, "that you 
wanted to learn Italian without telling him about me? 
How would he like that?" 

"I don't know . . I hadn't thought of . . ." 

"No, I know. It's my idea. What do you think of it?" 

She had closed her eyes, and now opened them. 

"I think it's a wonderful idea," she said. "Absolutely 
wonderful!" 

"Perhaps you could stay there for several months . . ." 

"Where would we stay?" she asked. 

"I don't know, somewhere in Rome." 

"No," she said quickly, and pushed him away. "Not 
Rome. Anywhere else. But not Rome." 

"Why not? Have you ever been there?" 

"No. Don't ask me why I don't want to go to Rome. I 
just don't." 

"All right," he said, drawing her back to him. "Not 
Rome. What about Paris?" 

"Yes . . . please," she said, and the pleasure returned to 
her face. "Please!" 

He took her arm, and went with her into the wood. 

"Tell me, Martin," she said after they had walked for a 
few moments in silence. "Is there anything wrong?" 

"Why?" 

178 



"Daddy says you're in trouble about something/' 

He stopped by a thick beech tree, propped his gun against 
it, and took her hands in his. 

"He's quite right/' he said with a shrug. "I am in 
trouble." He kicked a fallen branch with his toe, and said, 
"I've resigned from the F.O. ... I wasn't joking before. 
Not about myself. I'm going away. . . ." 

"But you were joking about me when you asked me?" 

"Half-joking," said Lambert. "It was a phantasy a sort 
of dream." 

He put his arm around her, and she spoke with her face 
against his jacket without looking up. 

"If you go away," she said, "I want to go with you. Please, 
Martin . . . please. I wouldn't be a nuisance. I swear to 
you I wouldn't. I'd " 

"What about your father?" 

"I can't help that. Everyone has a right to be happy. Why 
should I always, always, always sacrifice myself for him? 
He's never done anything for me. It's all a pretence." 

"And my wife?" 

"Your wife . . . ?" She hesitated, and said, "I'm sorry for 
her, very sorry. But she had her chance to make you happy. 
She did, didn't she? And she didn't take it . . ." 

He kissed her mouth before she finished her sentence. She 
kissed him with her lips closed and her eyes open and 
examining. 

"Miss Valerie," came the voice of the tractor-driver, 
approaching. "Breakfast. Margaret says breakfast/' 

"Coming, Caz," she called back. "Coming!" 

When they emerged from the other side of the copse, the 
Pole saw them and turned back to the house with Fausto 
bounding after him. 

"Well, what did you get, Martin?" said Fergusson who 
was waiting for them in the breakfast-room. 



"Nothing," said Lambert. "Your daughter got in my line 
of fire/' 

Fergusson patted her elbow. It was a favourite gesture of 
his when he was pleased with her. 

"Thank you for your forbearance," he said. "I wouldn't 
have liked you to have hit my daughter." 

"Don't worry, Daddy," said Valerie, offering Lambert the 
toast-rack. "He would have missed." 

Fergusson laughed, and helped himself to coffee. 

"You shouldn't, Daddy," said Valerie. 

"I know," said Fergusson. "But I like it. I'm feeling very 
well today. . . . What a glorious day! . . . How would 
you two like to come to the races?" 

"Wonderful idea!" said Lambert. 

"Marvellous!" said Valerie. 

"You see," said Fergusson, "we have to go to London the 
day after tomorrow." 

Valerie stopped eating, and said, "I didn't know, Daddy." 

"No, of course you didn't," said Fergusson, filling his 
pipe. "I only decided this morning. I thought we'd look 
round at some places, and see if we couldn't arrange some 
coaching for you before you go up." 

Lambert looked across the table at Fergusson who smiled 
back and offered him a cigarette from the bird's-eye maple 
box. 

"I wouldn't like to interfere with your arrangements, 
John," he said. "Are you sure you don't want to leave 
earlier? My own arrangements are very " he hesitated for 
the word, "very adaptable." 

"I know," said Fergusson. "I know. You haven't seen the 
papers this morning?" 

"Yes," said Lambert. "But I don't give a damn what the 
papers say. . . ." 

"There's quite a lot about him this morning pictures, 

180 



too," Fergusson said to Valerie. 

"Let me see," she said. She picked up the swath of news 
papers from the arm-chair and shuffled the front pages. 

"Good lord!" she said suddenly. "Look at this picture of 
Martin. It's practically the whole page. And look at the 
headline!" 

Lambert took the paper, as if indifferently, from her 
hands, and read the thick banner headline. "F.O. MAN 
SUSPENDED." 

"Are they all like that?" Valerie asked him. 

"Pretty well with variants according to style F.O. 
man, diplomat, diplomatist, Foreign Office official . . ." 

"How sickening!" said Valerie. 

"Are you quite sure," Lambert asked Fergusson, "that 
I'm not embarrassing you by my presence?" 

"Certainly not!" Fergusson said quickly. "We like a 
little excitement, don't we, Valerie?" 

"Yes love it," she said. 

"There were a few telephone calls for you," said Fergus- 
son. Valerie waited anxiously for his next sentence. "The 
press, you know," he went on. "I shunted them off." 

"Thank you so much. I'd rather not talk to the press 
not yet, at any rate. I'm probably going away." 

"Where to?" 

"I'm not quite sure. Rome or somewhere . . ." 

"Oh, but you said you wouldn't go to Rome!" Valerie 
said quickly. "You know you did, Martin." 

Her father didn't interrupt the rhythmic puffs of his 
pipe, but he said, "Don't agitate yourself, Valerie. Rome or 
Madrid or Paris they all have the same value as 
retreats. Have you cleared everything up, Martin?" 

"I've got nothing to clear," said Lambert. *Tve sent a 
report to the P.M. and to Baggott. They've been through 
my flat ransacked the whole place and they're welcome 

181 



to what they've got. I've got nothing to hide and nothing to 
clear up. When I go if I may, I'll leave you my address 
abroad. Are you likely to be in France or Italy this 
year?" 

"I don't think so/' said Fergusson. "I don't think so." 

"But perhaps I will be," said Valerie. "I'd love to go to 
one of those courses at Pau or the Sorbonne or somewhere 
like that. Do you think I might?" she asked her father. "It 
would be terribly useful if I could spend a month or two in 
France before I go to Oxford. Do say 'yes/ Daddy?" 

Fergusson smiled to Lambert. 

"What an exquisite age, Martin!" he said. "To think that 
there was ever a time when our only problems were Pau 
or the Sorbonne? What do you think? Should I let her go?" 

"I don't know," said Lambert, cautiously. "At any rate, 
I wouldn't recommend Pau in the autumn and winter. I'm 
not even sure if they have courses ..." 

"I don't specially want to go to Pau," said Valerie. "I'd 
settle for Paris the Sorbonne. I simply yearn to go to the 
Sorbonne. . . . Do say 'yes/ Daddy. It's a wonderful idea." 

"I'll have to discuss it further with Martin," said Fergus- 
son like a magistrate reserving judgment. "I'm not sure 
that I can expose you to the depredations of the resident 
Frenchmen." 

"But, Daddy," Valerie protested, "I thought you were a 
Francophile. . . ." 

"Not to that extent," said Fergusson. "What about the 
races this afternoon?" 

"Lovely!" said Valerie. "What car shall we take? Can I 
drive?" 

"I'll take my car if you like," said Lambert. 

"All right," said Fergusson. "And Valerie can pack a 
picnic." He became lively at the prospect. "Tell Caz to get 
up two bottles of Chambertin 'Forty-five. And see if you can 

182 



have a chicken done in time.'* 

"Yes, Daddy," said Valerie, and ran out of the room, 
looking for Margaret. 

Fergusson turned over the pile of newspapers before 
speaking. At last, he said, "You know the Rond Point des 
Champs Elysees?" 

"Yes," said Lambert. 

"Well, not far from there is a place called Le Beaujeu, 
near the Marigny Theatre . . ." 

Lambert waited for him to continue. 

"When you're next in Paris/' Fergusson went on, "you 
must try their crudites, Sauce Bagnarotte delicious and 
their steak au poivre most excellent. Pleasant place 
apart from the actors and dressmakers." 

"Would you like me to leave today, John?" Lambert 
asked, standing. "I don't want to inconvenience you I 
told you." 

Fergusson averted his glance. "No, I don't want you to 
go but you will understand I don't want Valerie to be 
come distressed or anything like that." 

"I see," said Lambert. "I understand. I'll leave tonight." 

"No, not tonight," said Fergusson. "Why not tomorrow 
that's it tomorrow!" 

He sat down in the arm-chair, and began gently to mas 
sage his chest. 

"Are you all right?" Lambert asked. He had turned to go, 
but now paused at the door. 

Fergusson waved him away. "I'm all right I'm all right." 
With two fingers he fumbled in his pocket for a pill 

In the hall, Lambert was greeted by Margaret. 

"Two men to see you," she said. 

"Where?" 

"In the study. They said you wasn't to hurry." 



XII 



WHITE WITH PALE freckles, the bald head over the inces 
santly writing hand was itself like a featureless, anonymous 
face. Barraclough had announced his name, and he had 
nodded. Since then, he had been silent, writing without 
looking up from his pad that he had rested on an oak coffee- 
table. 

"Leave it for a moment, Tom," Barraclough said. And 
Lambert saw the flickering pen stop, arrested by the order, 
while the pallid scalp still brooded over the paper. 

"I don't know whether you've heard about Sparr- 
Gamby," said Barraclough, propping his elbows on his 
knees. 

"No. What about him?" Lambert asked. 

"They're taking him in this morning," said Barra 
clough. "Pity. They'll confuse the whole situation." 

Lambert began to laugh, quietly at first and then more 
loudly, till at last, uncontrollably, he went to the window 
and stood there, gasping with laughter, while Barraclough 
watched him gravely. 

"What's the joke?" he said when Lambert's laughter had 
subsided into helpless exhaustion. 

"It's so bloody funny," said Lambert, taking his seat. "So 
bloody funny!" 

184 



"It's very funny/' said Barraclough. "The F.O. is very 
attached to its prejudices/' 

"What have they got him for?" Lambert asked. "Hand 
ing over the Brangwyn Report?" 

"That's in reserve," said Barraclough. "They're holding 
him for something else affaire de moeurs . . ." 

"You mean that Earl's Court business last year?" 

"Something of that kind." 

"But it was all dealt with in the Office." 

Barraclough stretched himself, and yawned. 

"Left London at seven this morning . . . yes, it's all 
old stuff . . . but somebody wanted action before to 
morrow. . . . Where were we, Tom?" 

Without raising his head, the shorthand-writer said, in a 
monotone, " 'Barraclough: Now tell me, Lambert, what did 
you do when you returned from Italy? Lambert: I was at 
the Foreign Office for a few months, and then I was trans 
ferred to the United States/ " 

"Yes," said Barraclough reflectively. "Yes. You enjoyed 
your stay in America." 

"On the whole yes," said Lambert. 

"New York, Washington, Chicago you were posted to 
all three in turn?" 

"Yes." 

"And you had many friends there." 

"Yes. Very many." 

"Your wife was with you?" 

"Yes. The whole time." 

"But you had to travel quite a bit lectures, broadcasts, 
talks, receptions, dinners that kind of thing." 

"Yes. I did all that it was part of my duties." 

Barraclough raised his hand. 

"My dear Lambert," he said, "don't apologise. These 
aren't imputations. I merely want a picture, for the record, 

185 



of your life in America." 

"What's that got to do with the subject of your in 
quiry?" 

Barraclough answered curtly, "Perhaps you'll leave me to 
answer that. . . . Tell me something about Augier. When 
did you first meet him?" 

"I've known him on and off for a long time. I've seen him 
quite a bit in London." 

"I'm not asking you that. I'm asking when you first met 
him." 

Lambert thought for a moment, and said, "I first met 
him in New York, in May, 1946." 

"Good," said Barraclough. "Have you got that, Tom?" 

The bald head jerked. 

"Now, tell me, Lambert," said Barraclough. "On what 
sort of terms were you with Augier?" 

Lambert picked up a magazine, fluttered the pages and 
put it down again. 

"I knew him as a journalist. My job was to be a sort of 
high-level public relations man I had to keep on good 
terms with anyone who might influence opinion and 
Augier was a useful person to know." 

"How useful?" 

"How useful? . . . Well, he was in contact with his own 
Embassy with the U.N. delegations with a swarm of 
people who wouldn't confide in an Englishman for one 
reason or another." 

"Yes. And he, no doubt, found you useful." 

"Yes. He must have." 

"Of course he did. And very properly. It was your job, 
wasn't it, to feed the press with news and opinion about 
Britain?" 

"Interpretation, chiefly. It wasn't my job to give out hard 
news." 

186 



"No, quite clearly," said Barraclough in friendly agree 
ment. "Your position was more important than that. But 
say, two or three times when Augier wanted information 
he did ring you, didn't he?" 

Lambert looked back at Barraclough's smiling face, and 
said, "What sort of information?" 

"Oh, perfectly respectable stuff about Bretton Woods, 
GATT and that kind of thing ..." 

"Yes, I habitually gave the press including Augier 
whatever I could." 

"I see," said Barraclough. "You gave them very prop 
erly background information. . . . Well, let's have a 
look at something else. This fellow Augier ... he had a 
flat an apartment, I suppose it's called looking over 
Central Park." 

Lambert made no comment. 

"It was, I imagine, like his London flat," Barraclough 
went on. 

"Augier was a very hospitable person," said Lambert. 
"He was always having people in for drinks." 

"Yes," said Barraclough, examining a schedule in front 
of him. "I have a list of his guests." 

"Have you been burgling him as well?" asked Lambert. 

"Oh, yes," said Barraclough the wavering pen had 
paused "but this lot's from America. You see, your friend 
Augier made a business of friendship. He had all his friends 
card-indexed professions, Jbeauty, connections, wealth. It 
was all there. Didn't you notice how nicely cooked his 
parties were all the ingredients in due proportion 
tycoons, actresses, lawyers, bishops?" 

"I never gave it a thought. Most parties in America are 
carefully composed." 

"That may be," said Barraclough. "But I would have 
thought you might have paid special attention to Augier's 

187 



parties. In 1951, during May you were at his flat on the 
seventeenth, twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty-seventh 
and the thirtieth. In June and July, you were with 
him . . ." 

"You needn't go through the statistics," said Lambert. "I 
will assume that you've read my diaries with due care and 
attention. What are you trying to prove?" 

"For the moment, I am only trying to establish this 
that you know Augier well that you've known him for 
y ears that you've both been in the habit of doing each 
other favours. . . ." 

"And then?" 

"And then I think you may agree with me that the ex 
planation of how you came to give the Brangwyn Report to 
Augier is a simple one a very simple one . . ." 

There was a knock at the door, and Margaret came in, 
wiping her hands. 

"Any of you want coffee?" she asked. 

Barraclough relayed her question. 

"Lambert?" 

Lambert nodded. 

"Tom?" 

The head moved silently, as the hand accelerated to catch 
up with the last sentences. 

"I must stretch myself," said Barraclough, standing. "I 
get the most awful fibrositis in my back the Anglo-Saxon 
complaint. Rheumatism, catarrh and premature deafness 
it's our malaria. We're apathetic about it as the Egyptians 
about bilharzia. Just as damaging, too, though not so 
localised." 

He walked around the room, and then waited while 
Margaret stood holding the coffee-tray. 

"I want the table," she said peremptorily to the 
shorthand-writer. Without answering, he raised his head 

188 



till his eyes, colourless in the light from the window, stared 
into her own small eyes. Hastily, she put the tray on the 
desk, and left the room. 

"Tom, you see/' said Barraclough, "is a man of com 
pelling personality. Black or white, Lambert?" 

"White," said Lambert. "How much more of this is 
there?" 

"Not much," said Barraclough reassuringly. "Perhaps 
another hour. I've got the main things down. I only want to 
deal with a few straggling threads. For example . . ." 

He laid aside his half-finished cup of coffee, and the pen 
posed again. 

"For example," he repeated, "when did your child die?" 

"What's that got to do with you?" said Lambert. 

"I'm sorry," said Barraclough. "It's relevant." 

"It's relevant to nothing," said Lambert, "except to my 
self." 

"And to your wife?" 

"And to my wife." 

It was relevant to Eleanore. After the winter and the 
piled-up snow, the blizzards from the lake setting the ice 
hard on the Chicago streets, after the short days when the 
Loop was brilliant with light at four o'clock in the after 
noon and the children in the station-wagons had been 
wrapped in wool for a season, the spring came, and she was 
less afraid, seeing the rare magnolias and the plane trees in 
bud. In November, Nicholas had developed what Dr. Reed 
called "an upper respiratory infection" and she had sat with 
him constantly till the fever had gone. And during the days 
of Nicholas' illness, whenever Lambert returned at night 
from the Consulate or the parties of the Aviation Conven 
tion, he would find her sitting quietly, often in darkness, 
watchful and attentive, while in the next room, the nurse 

189 



listened resentfully to a wireless-set subdued almost to 
silence. 

Each time, the same question. "How is he, nurse?" 

"Better quite better. There's no sense in Mrs. Lambert 
sitting in all the time." 

And Eleanore would say, "I'm glad you're back, Martin. 
I was so worried at about four. But when Dr. Reed came, 
he said we needn't be alarmed . . ." 

"I spoke to him/' said Lambert. "He said Nicholas is 
quite better and that you're overdoing things you mustn't 
exaggerate, darling. He's only had a bad cold." 

"I know. But I'm worried about him. I'm always worried 
about him. I wish you didn't have to go out so much. Can't 
we sometimes be alone together the three of us?" 

And he had turned away in irritation, and said, "For 
heaven's sake, Eleanore. . . . You know I've got to do all 
this. You've become pathological about Nicholas. He isn't 
a child in arms. He's nearly eight, but you smother him with 
your devotion." And he had looked at her matt face, and 
added, "It's not really devotion. It's a form of selfishness. 
You've got to have some possession something that's 
wholly yours." 

"Why do you say that?" she had asked. And she followed 
him into the living-room. "I'm anxious about Nicholas. 
That isn't abnormal. And I'd rather stay with him. . . ." 
But he turned his back on her, and went into the bath 
room, and started the shower. 

It had been a good party at the Saddle and Cycle Club. 
He had wanted Eleanore to come, but, in a way, it had been 
better without her. Compared with American women, she 
was aloof and withdrawn, uncommunicative in feeling as 
well as in thought. But American women were friendly and 
challenging and gay. They encircled you with an aura of 
importance and exhilaration. They made you feel witty and 

190 



stimulating. The most ordinary sentences became epigrams 
when they stood listening, their eyes eager and interested. 
Like Marianne Kinross, Elizabeth McNally. And the pale 
girl with a fringe whom he had met at the end of the party. 
They weren't constantly preoccupied with their children, as 
Eleanore was with Nicholas. They saw life in perspective. 
He felt vigorous and energetic under the sharp jets of the 
shower bath. He dried himself, and felt that he'd like to 
telephone Augier, and go out again the others had gone on 
to a night club. But, instead, he put on his pyjamas, and 
went into the bedroom where Eleanore, exhausted and fully 
dressed, lay fast asleep on the bed. 

When the spring came, her anxieties, for a while, be 
came less. She allowed Nicholas to go to school more often 
in the station-wagon, although she herself, despite his pro 
tests, insisted on taking him in their own car when the 
weather was specially cold. He was thin and fair, tall for his 
age, ardently interested in boats and swimming. For space 
men and cowboys he had an unalterable contempt. But his 
room was furnished and decorated with ships in all their 
manifestations models of schooners, plans of the Queen 
Mary, pictures of battleships and even a ship in a bottle that 
Lambert had bought for him in a London junk-shop when 
he had been on leave. 

"I want to go to Michigan," he had said in a slow, Ameri 
can voice that was a contrast with Eleanor's crisp, Southern 
English accent. Lambert wanted to send him to a school- 
camp, but Eleanore opposed the idea. She wanted to be near 
him. All their talk at breakfast was of their summer holiday 
together, of lakes and boats and rigs. 

In late spring, her anxieties about his colds diminished 
only to be replaced by a new alarm when she heard that 
four cases of poliomyelitis had been reported nearby on 



the North Side, Lambert reassured her. 

At night, with their door an inch ajar in case Nicholas 
stirred, she would lie wakeful, and say, "Reassure me, my 
darling. I get so terrified about Nicholas especially when 
you go away. I feel so insecure." 

And he would hold her against his body and say, "There's 
nothing to be afraid of. Absolutely nothing. You will poison 
your whole life if you have this constant vicarious hypo 
chondria." 

"I know," she said, "I can't help it. But when you're close 
to me like this, it's better. ... He is all right, isn't he?" 

"He's perfect." 

"And he doesn't look frail do you think?" 

"He looks an American tough guy." 

She sighed, and said, "I'm so glad. Why don't you kiss 
me?" 

Towards the end of May, they felt the first stirrings of the 
summer heat. Men took off their jackets, and when the 
temperature rose the lake rolled heavy and turgid as it 
reflected the coppery colour of the sky. For three nights in 
succession, Lambert had been to parties for touring Mem 
bers of Parliament. 

"The most tiresome thing about them," he told Eleanore 
afterwards, "is that they come to lecture, and never stop. 
. . . Mind you, they're not so bad as ballet dancers. M.P.s 
will settle for a consular official. The ballet dancers want 
the whole diplomatic corps. Some journalist once called 
ballet dancers our travelling ambassadors, and they've taken 
him seriously ever since. There's a new batch in tomorrow. 
Lap worth's giving a party. Like to come?" 

"Well," she said, putting her arms around him, "I will 
come if we can get the sitter." 

192 



"Oh, come," he said, "you don't really want a sitter for a 
few hours." 

"Yes, I do," she answered firmly. "Unless I can take him 
to the Garlands'. They've got that girl from the University 
who looks after Dick. When does th.e ballet open? I'd adore 
to go. Can you get tickets?" 

And he put his arms around her, and said, "Eleanore, I'm 
tired of being away from England. If you like, I'll try and 
get posted home again." 

She smiled against his shoulder, and said, 

"Oh, Martin. I do want to be home again we've been 
so much apart; even in America." 

After the stewing heat outside, the refrigerator chill of the 
air-conditioned room. The ballet company arrived late, 
preceded by its impresario, an elderly American with the 
ribbon of the Legion of Honour in his buttonhole, who 
acknowledged his chosen acquaintances with a discriminat 
ing droop of his hand. Behind him came the ballet's 
manager, her face and postures enamelled, each step an 
entrance, talking loudly and fluently. 

"She's like a cannon that only fires blanks," Lambert said 
to Eleanore. 

As the impresario advanced like a court chamberlain, the 
guests fell into a double hedge as if waiting to be presented. 
The ballerinas followed the manager, demurely and 
modestly. 

"Let me introduce you to Livadnova," Lambert said to 
his wife. He introduced her to the dancer, and Eleanore 
asked, "Are you having an exhausting tour?" 

"Oh, yes," said the ballerina, after a pause, friendly and 
inarticulate. 

"And how do you like Chicago?" Eleanore asked encour- 



agingly. The ballerina hesitated and looked for guidance 
towards the manager, who arrived at that moment. 

"You love it," she said in her emphatic voice that made 
each syllable sound like an insult. "Don't you, darling?" 

"Oh, yes," said Livadnova. And the movement of the 
crowd, now pressing, gaping and exclaiming, around the 
dancers, separated Eleanore from Lambert who waved and 
smiled to her over their heads. 

"And how do you like Chicago, Mr. Lambert?" a girl 
with a fair fringe asked him. He remembered that he had 
met her with Augier in the winter, and he answered in the 
prescribed style of the occasion, "I like it a lot better now 
than three minutes ago. Let me get you a drink." 

And they sat in a corner of the room in the alcove made 
by the grand piano and the wall, slowly drinking amid the 
accumulating chatter, the scent of the women and the 
sweat that pearled despite the air-machine. 

At half past seven, Eleanore, withdrawing from the circle 
of laughing Americans around her, came up to him, and he 
said, rising, to the girl whose name he didn't know, "You 
know my wife, of course." 

"My name is Isabel Fulton," the girl said. "Your hus 
band's been telling me all about England. I bet you're long 
ing to get back." 

"Well," said Eleanore, smiling, "at the moment I'm long 
ing to get back to our son. I've left him with friends, and I Ve 
promised to pick him up at half past seven, but Martin 
seemed to be enjoying himself so much . . ." 

"Too bad," said the girl, and turning to Lambert she 
said, "You mustn't miss the night-shift." 

With a wave of her hand, she left him, and a moment 
later was joining in the tail end of a joke in a nearby group 
of her acquaintances. 

"Would you like to stay?" Eleanore asked Lambert. 

194 



"No/' he said abruptly. "There's no point in staying." 

He drove fast and without speaking through the park to 
the Garlands' house. 

The evening sun was still hot as they drove, but a wind 
had begun to blow from the Lake, driving slow, emphatic 
waves against the concrete. 

"I hope Nicky's wearing his coat," said Eleanore at last. 

"Oh, for God's sake, stop fussing," said Lambert, and he 
turned the car into the drive. He got out, and his hair blew 
into his face. 

"Hold on to your hat, Eleanore," he said. "It's pretty 
blowy." 

From across the road, a few hundred yards away, they 
could hear the boom of the waves, powerful and incessant. 
Eleanore leapt out of the car, ran up the steps and pressed 
the bell. They waited for a few moments, and Eleanore 
brushed her hair back with her fingers. There was no reply. 

"Ring again," said Lambert, and he tried to light a 
cigarette, but the wind blew it out. Again they waited out 
side the door, and Eleanore peered through the thick glass 
of the side windows. "Perhaps the bell's out of order," said 
Lambert. He put his left arm around Eleanore, and started 
to bang with his fist on the door. They heard the sound 
reverberate through the rooms as if the house were empty. 

"They've probably gone for a walk," said Lambert. 
"They've probably gone down to the Lake with the girl. 
What time did the Garlands say they'd be back?" 

"They're not coming back tonight," said Eleanore. 
"They've gone to Detroit. They won't be back till Wednes 
day. I arranged with Libby to pick up Nicholas here." 

Lambert thudded with his fist against the door and again 
they waited for the reply to the sound. 

"There can't be anyone in," said Eleanore. "It's so cold 
by the Lake. . . ." 

195 



"Don't worry," said Lambert, kissing her on the cheek. 
"Nicky can look after himself/' 

"No, he can't," said Eleanore. "He's such a little boy." 

"Come on," said Lambert, soothingly. "Don't be silly. 
We'll drive down to the lakeside, and give him hell." 

"No, you won't," said Eleanore. "I'll protect him." 

"That's better," said Lambert. He looked at the sky that 
had changed in tone from its earlier livid colour to the 
serene, dark blue of evening. Already some drivers had 
switched on their headlights. 

"Isn't the sky beautiful?" he asked her. 

"Yes," she said, getting in the car. "Do hurry, darling. I 
don't want him to be out late without a coat." 

Outside the drive, two small boys and a girl were stand 
ing, looking towards the house. When Lambert saw them, 
he stopped the car and said, "Hello, Carl, seen Dick or 
Nicky anywhere?" 

The children didn't answer, and the girl ran away. 

"What is it, Carl?" Eleanore asked. "Have you seen 
Nicky?" 

"Miss Bell said to tell you she expected you at seven- 
thirty," said the second boy. "She's gonel" 

"I saw him, Mrs. Lambert," said Carl. "Not after, though. 
They went to the Lake." 

"What do you mean?" said Lambert, getting out of the 
car. "Where's Nicky?" 

"He went sailing his boat, Mrs. Lambert," said the second 
boy. 

"Are they down at the Lake?" 

"Sure," said the second boy, relieved at the clarification. 
"They're all down at the Lake." 

Near the lakeside they saw the crowd assembling as if for 
a public meeting cars parked by the side of the drive, 
hurrying boys, dawdling Negroes and an ambulance out 

196 



of reach of the waves. Nothing on the vast horizon, no ship, 
no boat, no person. Lambert stopped the car; Eleanore had 
leapt out and was running to the centre of the crowd. 

"What's happened. . . ?" she asked a policeman. "What's 
happened? I'm looking for my son." 

"Just a minute/' said the policeman. He led her through 
the crowd, with Lambert following, to the steps of the 
ambulance where a boy of about six sat wrapped in 
blankets. 

"Dick," she said. "Dick. Where's Nicholas?" 

"In the Lake," he said, and began to cry. 

Weeks afterwards, when she had returned from hospital, 
and her cocktail-dress, soiled to the hips with the slime of the 
Lake, had been burnt, she said to Lambert in the middle of 
the night when, sleepless, she had stirred him from sleep, 
"It was your fault." 

He had woken from his own anguish and repeated, "My 
fault?" 

"Yes," she said calmly, lying on her back and staring into 
the darkness. "It was your fault. You never understood my 
love for Nicholas. You were jealous. You made me go to 
that party. ... I loathed it. ... That girl with the 
fringe . . . That's why Nicky . . ." 

She began to weep as if there could be no end to her 
misery, and said, "I wish I were dead ... I wish, I wish I 
were dead." 

He put his arm on her shoulder, but she pushed it 
away. At last, when her sobbing ended, she put her wet, 
swollen face against his, and said, "I'm sorry, Martin. I'm 
terribly sorry. I hardly know what I'm saying." 

And he said, "It's all right, my darling. Try and sleep. I 
understand how you feel." 

But after a few days she again said to him, "It was your 



fault. If it hadn't been for you, Nicky would be alive to 
day/' A fortnight later, she was found drunk in the car by 
the Planetarium. And at that time, too, Lambert heard at 
the Consulate that she was seeing Huysinger every day. 

"Well?" said Barraclough. 

"The date . . ." said Lambert. 

"Yes, the date." 

"It was May twenty-fifth. . . ." 

"I see. And a day later, I notice, you were listed at a 
reception for the International Neurologists." 

"Yes." 

"And the following evening you were at a concert of the 
Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mrs. Mayhew's party." 

"Yes." 

"You didn't allow your private grief to interfere with 
your duties." 

Lambert flushed, and answered, "They were duties. I 
did what I had to." 

Barraclough put up his hand. 

"I'm not criticising you," he said. "I merely want to get 
the picture. What's the time, Tom?" 

The shorthand-writer took out his fob-watch, and said, 
"Ten to twelve." 

"Right-ho," said Barraclough. "We'll go on a little 
longer. Where were we?" 

"You were asking me about Chicago. . . ." 

"Chicago. Yes. Chicago ... All this time, your wife 
was in the Macintyre Clinic . . ." 

"Not all the time. She was there to begin with." 

"To begin with?" 

"Yes. I had her taken there from the City Hospital. She 
was at the Macintyre Clinic for about a week. After she 
came out ... there was the trouble with the car. . . . 

198 



She then went to the Parker Clinic. . . . They made it a 
condition." 

"Yes," said Barraclough sympathetically. ''I understand. 
It must have been a very difficult time for you. But you had 
some excellent friends." 

"They were all very good about it at the Consulate." 

"And your other friends the Andersons, the Marlowes, 
the Mayhews, and so on they were very helpful and 
obliging." 

"Very." 

"And Isabel Fulton?" 

The girl with the fringe. She had telephoned him early 
in June. Lambert looked quickly at Barraclough as he 
studied a foolscap sheet with a record of dates pricked out 
in red. His expression hadn't altered. 

"I saw her a few times. She was sympathetic, and helpful." 

"Did she ever visit Mrs. Lambert in hospital?" 

"No." 

"I had that impression," said Barraclough. "But let's 
move on. I notice here that you saw a lot of Augier in June 
and July. In fact, you travelled with him to Washing 
ton. . . ." 

"Yes." 

"Why?" 

For a few moments Lambert didn't answer. 

"Why?" Barraclough repeated. 

"Well," said Lambert, "I wanted to get away for a bit 
from Chicago." 

"And to help Augier?" 

"Partly that. I wanted him to meet some of the new 
people on the staff." 

"I see. You were, in fact, doing what you'd been doing 
for quite a long time. You were feeding Augier with 
facilities." 



"You can call it that." 

"He was somewhat in your debt." 

"I don't know what you mean." 

"I'll put it more simply. He was grateful to you." 

"I wouldn't put it so strongly. It was my business to 
help the press. I tried to help everyone alike." 

"Well, let me put the same thing differently inside 
out, if you like. . . ." 

Lambert waited. 

"You were somewhat in his debt. . . ." 

"In what way?" 

"In the usual way." Barraclough's voice had become exact. 
"You owed him fifteen hundred dollars on July fifteenth." 

"Well?" 

"You'd got into debt with the clinics. . . ." 

Lambert was silent. 

"On July first you were overdrawn at the National and 
Mutual Bank by eleven hundred and three dollars . . ." 

Lambert lit himself a cigarette. "You paid your bill at 
the clinics," Barraclough went on. "Did you ever repay 
Augier?" 

"Yes," said Lambert. "I repaid him the whole lot in 
September." 

"And borrowed another twelve hundred on December 
first. In fact, you've had a running account with him ever 
since. You are still, I think, in Augier's debt. . . ." 

"What are you suggesting?" Lambert asked. 

Barraclough threw his papers aside, and said, "Leave it, 
Tom. . . . I'll tell you what I'm suggesting. I'm suggest 
ing this that for years you've had the practice a most 
proper and desirable one of giving Augier information, 
background and general help. Right! And Augier what 
ever his motives goodwill, perhaps self -interest I don't 
know Augier stood by you when you were in difficulties. 

200 



Very well! You've already told us in precise terms that 
you gave Augier the Brangwyn Report ..." 

". . . on Brangwyn's instructions." 

"Let's take it step by step/' said Barraclough. "I'm trying 
to see this as a normal, sensible person would see it. You 
have a motive of gratitude towards Augier. You have more 
than that you have a general sympathy with his political 
point of view." 

"That isn't true." 

"Oh, yes, it is. You said to Cooper only two months ago 
I've got it here you said, 1 can understand the French 
wanting to be neutral.' " 

"I did say that. And I added, '. . . but neutrality nowa 
days is a mirage/ You know, Barraclough, the trouble with 
informers is that they're usually out of context." 

"We'll see about that," said Barraclough. "All I want you 
to do, Lambert, is to make a short statement, cancelling any 
thing you've put out before. I want a short statement for the 
P.M. It'll go something like this. 'I so and so and so and so 
wish to state that on such and such a date at such and 
such a time at Burlington House delivered to Victor Augier, 
a French journalist representing Le Monde Populaire, a 
Foreign Office submission' we won't call it a Cabinet 
paper 'believing, mistakenly as I now realise, that it was 
consistent with my responsibility in-the News Department 
to provide this information in anticipation of the Rome 
Conference.' What do you think of it?" 

"I think," said Lambert, "that there are too many words 
ending in 'ion.' " 

"Perhaps," said Barraclough, gathering his file together. 
"You might like to improve its literary content between 
now and this evening. You're being stupid, Lambert. I'm 
trying to help you. Can't you see it?" 

"No/' said Lambert. "All I can see is that you're trying 

201 



to get from me a statement that you're a competent in 
vestigator. You're asking me for a lie, plausible enough to 
pass off as truth. I hope you won't think me impolite if I 
tell you to go to the devil." 

"Not a bit," said Barraclough, standing. "Not a bit. I 
know exactly how you feel. I'll 'phone you this evening. In 
the meantime, of course, you might care to think of Sparr- 
Gamby. It would be a pity not for him he deserves ten 
years on principle it would be a pity for one's faith in the 
appropriateness of the wages of sin if they locked him up for 
the Brangwyn Report. His mother's very upset about the 
whole thing." 

He took his hat and raincoat from the piano-stool, and 
said, "Fancy anything for this afternoon?" 

"You might try Graziella II for the 2.55," said Lambert. 

"Make a note of it, Tom," said Barraclough. "Graziella. 
Graziella. Thank you, Lambert, we'll see you later." 



XIII 



THROUGH THE NARROW gates leading to the main London 
road, a movement of cars had already begun, outriders 
of the great procession that would follow the last race, the 
pebble-stirrings of the dark mass that spread around the 
rails and would soon disintegrate like a rock face. The 
children who had picnicked with their parents in the 
autumn sun were tired and cold. If the horses ran all the 
time it might be different. But the time between the time 
between! The waiting about. The walking! 

"I used to loathe the intervals between races/' said 
Valerie to Lambert as they walked towards the parade-ring. 
"But Daddy always adored them. I wanted to see photo 
finishes the whole time, and all I usually saw was some 
grown-up person's coat who got in my way when the horses 
were going past/' 

"And now?" said Lambert, looking at her eager face made 
bright by the evening wind. 

"Now," said Valerie, "I'm a connoisseur." 

"You're not understating it. . . ?" 

"Oh, no. I'm really a connoisseur. I like looking at horses' 
rumps and fetlocks, making up my own mind. Hello, 
Edward. You know Martin Lambert Edward Whyte- 
Parker you met at the Institute dance." 

"Good afternoon," said Whyte-Parker, who, in a grey 

203 



check suit and a bowler hat tipped slightly over his eyes, 
had been watching with a mournful attention the first horse, 
led by its groom into the ring. 

"Hello," Lambert said, but Whyte-Parker went straight 
from his greeting into an analysis of Ecu d'Or. 

"No use at all," he said to Valerie. "Top weight. Didn't 
do it last month at Harcastle with a light wind. . . . 
Bissell says, 'Leave it alone/ " 

"What about Camelot?" Valerie asked. "That is Camelot, 
isn't it?" pointing to a tall grey that walked, tossing its head, 
as the groom led it around the ring. 

"No," said Whyte-Parker contemptuously, without tak 
ing his eyes off the parade. "That's Estobar. Camelot's got a 
small star. And besides, there's Major Bridewood and 
Morgan. ..." 

"Of course," said Valerie, apologetically. "How stupid of 
me!" 

"Hello, my boy," said an elderly man in an ulster over 
coat, approaching the rail. "Do any good today?" 

Whyte-Parker raised his hat and said, "Good-afternoon, 
sir. Not too bad. This is Valerie Fergusson, Mr. Gordon 
Saltash . . . and this ..." 

"My name's Lambert." 

"Marvellous day," said Saltash in a firm voice. "Mar 
vellous day ..." 

"What's going to win the five o'clock?" Valerie asked. 

There was a pause, and Whyte-Parker looked at her in 
amazement. 

"Are you a punter, my dear?" Saltash asked. 

"More or less," said Valerie. 

"Well," said Saltash, "I can tell you in that case as an 
owner " he bent- forward and whispered in her ear 
"it's anyone's guess!" He raised his hat, and retired, laugh 
ing enthusiastically. 

204 



"Really, Valerie," said Whyte-Parker when Saltash had 
gone. "This isn't the right moment to pick up tips/' 

"Oh, rot/' said Valerie, recovering her confidence. "You 
really shouldn't be so deferential to race-course conven 
tions. And besides" she passed to the counter-attack 
"aren't you supposed to be up?" 

The horses, mounted now, were beginning to pass 
through the exit from the ring on their way to the top of the 
course, and as their grooms led them in file through the gap, 
so did the advantages of his expertness forsake Whyte- 
Parker, one by one. 

'Tm making it up in Long Term," he said in explana 
tion. "I was going to telephone you, Valerie, and ask . . ." 

"Let's get back, Valerie," said Lambert. 

"Yes," said Valerie. "Good-bye, Edward." 

She waved to him, as she took Lambert's arm, possessively 
and ostentatiously so that Whyte-Parker might see her 
allegiance, and called out, "See you when you come down." 

"Valerie . . ." Whyte-Parker began again, but they were 
already hurrying in the direction of the stand. 

"I find that young man odious without qualification," 
said Lambert. 

"Do you, darling?" Valerie said happily. "I'm so glad. 
Actually, I find him rather sweet." 

Lambert paused in the stream of racegoers who were 
hurrying towards the totalisators and the bookmakers in 
order to place their bets. 

"In that case," he said, "perhaps I shouldn't have taken 
you away from his society." 

"You're silly," she said. "I find everybody sweet today. 
I'm terribly, terribly happy. . . . Come on, Martin. I'm so 
glad Daddy couldn't come. . . . Poor old Daddy ... I 
hope he's all right." 

The draw for positions had already gone up on the 

205 



board, a declaration against the evening sky that the last 
chance had come for the disappointed to redeem their 
falsified hopes of the earlier races. 

"How do we stand?" Lambert asked Valerie. 

"We're thirty-two pounds up you are. I've won thirty- 
two shillings." 

He took her ungloved hand, and held it warmly enclosed 
in his own. Amid the litter of tote-tickets trampled in the 
turf, ice-cream cartons, rejected newspapers, they stood ex 
amining their own race-cards. The clamour of the book 
makers began to fade as the first of the horses cantered 
collectedly up the course. 
"What shall we do?" Lambert asked. 

"Mirabelle!" Valerie said quickly. "Each way." 

"What about Petard ten to one? If I put thirty 
pounds . . ." 

"Oh, Martin, you couldn't possibly. . . ." 

"Why not? What do you want, Mirabelle or Petard?" 

"All right Petard ten shillings each way. How much 
are you putting on?" 

He pushed through the group gathered around a stand 
called McCormick, and said, "What are you giving for 
Petard?" 

The bookmaker looked down at his clerk who went on 
writing, and said, "Nines." 

"Right you are," said Lambert. "I want twenty no 
make it thirty pounds on Petard." 

"Petard, thirty," said the bookmaker and the clerk in 
differently handed Lambert a card. 

"The start of a race," said Valerie, "is always somehow 
like the beginning of a sermon. Everybody becomes so 
terribly solemn." 

In the stands and at the rails, the faces were turned in 
silence towards the starting post near the trees, scarcely 

206 



visible because of the bend in the course and the evening 
mist. Lambert raised his glasses towards the blur of red, 
mauve and brown, moving in a congested and languid 
motion that seemed to quicken as it came within the at 
traction of the crowd. 

"I can see Petard/' he said to Valerie. "Second no, 
third. What's the thing with blue stripes and blinkers?" 

"Acolyte . . ." said Valerie. "Do let me see." 

She took his binoculars, and began to focus them. 

"It's Acolyte Estobar, I think it is Mirabelle Molla 
and Daisy Chain, I think." 

"Where's Petard?" 

"I can't see him at all." 

She handed Lambert the glasses, and he held them in his 
hand. The horses were now in sight, and Valerie and Lam 
bert moved down towards the rails, while the crowd began 
an incantation of the horses' names. Spread out now 
Mirabelle, Estobar, Molla, Acolyte, Daisy Chain, and a 
straggling field they drummed past with a spattering of 
earth towards the finishing post. 

"Well, that's that," said Lambert. "Foam, blood and 
sweat. Petard, my darling, wasn't disgraced. Not last. Last 
but one." 

They both burst out laughing, and continued to laugh, 
leaning on the white rail with their arms around each 
other's shoulders, till Valerie said, "How much did you 
have on?" 

"Thirty pounds," said Lambert. "If I'd backed Mira 
belle . . ." 

"If we'd backed Mirabelle!" said Valerie. "You should 
have taken my advice." 

"Oh, come," said Lambert. "Post-mortem diagnosis." 

"I know," said Valerie. "I didn't mean it. I'm glad you 
backed Petard. I hate people like myself who always 

207 



back things both ways. It's so niggling." 

"I wanted to win two hundred and fifty pounds/' said 
Lambert. "Pity!" 

"What would you have done with it?" Valerie asked as 
they moved with the current of racegoers towards the car 
park. A sudden heave of the crowd separated Lambert from 
Valerie, and he found himself addressed by an angry and 
disappointed backer. 

"He bit him," the backer said, his face puffed in the chilly 
air by beer and indignation. "I saw it. Acolyte bit him twice. 
I saw it. He had his head over Jonsey's leg. Molla won 
it ... three lengths he won it. . . ." 

"I quite agree," said Lambert, looking over his shoulder 
at Valerie, who stretched her hand towards him through 
the currents of the crowd. 

"He grabbed him twice," said the backer, pressed hard 
between Lambert and a middle-aged, panting woman who 
kept repeating resentfully, "I wish they wouldn't push. . . . 
I wish they wouldn't push." 

Lambert tried to make a way through the crowds that 
converged from the stands and the track near the entrance to 
the car-park, but a series of attendants directing the traffic 
held them dammed at the embouchements. He could no 
longer see Valerie among the strange, impatient and uncom 
fortable faces around him, and he said to the backer, who 
was now invoking him, nose to nose, "Pretty big field ..." 

"That's what they did to Molla pocketed him right on 
the rails." 

The crowd had stopped moving forward, but a second 
series of arrivals who had been collecting their winnings 
compressed those already near the barriers into a packed 
wedge at the exit. "Move along there," a voice called 
loudly from behind. 

208 



"I wish they'd stop pushing/' said the woman at Lam 
bert's side. "I can't breathe. . . ." 

"Too much weight," said the backer into Lambert's face. 
"She give too much away. ... If Molla didn't win at 
Brinton . . ." 

As if held by a central pivot, the crowd began to sway, a 
delicate, hardly sensible oscillation, a lulling, rhythmical 
rocking. 

"Why don't you move along there? Move along," voices 
called. "They've gone for dinner," someone else said, and 
the laughter ran like a flame along a fuse, disturbing the 
gentle motion. But a moment later it began again. 

Lambert raised his arms clear of his hemmed-in sides, 
and began again to look across the heads for Valerie. He 
glimpsed her hair. She had moved through the earlier in 
terstices of the crowd, and was standing near the barrier, 
twisting around as if in search of him. He waved to her, but 
the swaying of the crowd was now accompanied by a 
chant, ' ' One two three four what are we wait 
ing for " and moved her from his vision. "One two 
three four . . ." 

"I can't breathe," the woman said at his side. She had let 
go of her umbrella Which now stood supported between her 
and her neighbour by the pressure of the crowd. "I had a 
stone taken out last spring. ..." 

"He swerved at the start," said the backer. "Lost a lot of 
ground. . . . Give over there!" 

He had suddenly taken conscience of the heaving people 
around him, and his indignation against Acolyte now found 
another target. 

"It's a bloody disgrace," he said to Lambert. "They'll 
have the barriers down in a bit." 

"I can't breathe," said the woman next to him. 

209 



From behind them came the sing-song, "One two 
three four . . ." mingled at last with a shout, as i in a 
rugby scrum, of "Heave!" 

"Now," thought Lambert, "here it comes," and in the 
moment that he looked for Valerie, the fulcrum of the 
crowd moved forward in its entirety, changing the rhythm 
of the gentle rocking into a single, tottering swing. He 
'heard the barriers crack, and saw the farthest figures sink 
as the crowd poured forward into the roadway that led to 
the car-park. Lambert, carried far into the road by the on 
rush, turned against the stream to look for Valerie. 

"Are you looking for me?" she said, coming up behind 
him. He didn't answer, but put his arm around her while 
the police, brisk and contemptuous of the race-course cus 
todians, re-formed the lanes of traffic and ended the brief 
panic. 

"I hope you don't think I abandoned you, darling," she 
said. "I had to get through quickly because I was sur 
rounded by beastly old men." 

"When I saw the barriers fall . . ." Lambert said. 

"No one was hurt," said Valerie. "A few people fell. It 
was all the fault of those fatuous attendants. Why is it that 
a peak cap makes people so stupid? Were you worried about 
me?" 

"Dreadfully," said Lambert. 

"That's very satisfactory," said Valerie. "Very!" 

Lambert was following the line of cars that led to the 
main road. 

"Why were you worried about me?" she asked. 

"Shall I spell it out?" Lambert answered. He turned into 
a side-road, leading across country to Felling. 

"I'd like you to," said Valerie, leaning back comfortably 
in the car. "Tell me everything." 

210 



"Everything?" Lambert repeated. "I can't tell you every 
thing. I'll tell you some of the things." 

He was driving slowly through the narrow, hedge-lined 
roads. 

"Well, to begin with," he said, "when I came to Felling, 
I had only one thought in my mind. It was to see your father 
an old friend of mine someone I've always liked and 
admired and still do." 

"And yet you seem so different from each other. What do 
you like in him?" she asked. 

"I like him because he has always seemed to me a com 
pletely civilised person wise and tolerant not perfect in 
himself not by any means fallible in his own life, but 
tolerant the sort of man you go to when you have doubts 
and difficulties." 

"Was that why you came to stay with us this time?" 

"I think it was. I wanted to get away for a few days from 
the Foreign Office, and besides ..." 

She was listening to him with her gaze set rigidly in front 
of her. 

". . . besides," he went on, "I wanted to ask his advice." 

"Did you ask his advice?" 

"No," said Lambert, and his hands moved over the steer 
ing wheel. "Not about that not about the matters I wanted 
to ask him about. I asked his advice about other things 
the Foreign Office." 

She turned her face to him, and said, "Are you in frightful 
trouble, Martin? I keep pushing the thought to the back of 
my mind, but suddenly it comes rushing back. I don't under 
stand what it's all about. . . ." 

"Don't worry, Valerie/' Lambert said. Absently, he fin 
gered the artificial pearls that hung over her jumper. "Don't 
worry about that. It's all nonsense." 

"But it isn't nonsense," she said, withdrawing from him. 

211 



"How can it be when Barraclough is constantly hanging 
about and the Brangwyn Report and your resignation? 
Have you done anything wrong?" 

''No," he said to her. "I've done nothing wrong nothing, 
absolutely nothing." 

"But Barraclough thinks you have. . . ." 

"That may be." 

"And Daddy what does he think?" 

"I'm not sure." 

"But . . ." 

He put his hand on her mouth. "Don't ask about it any 
more. I'm tired of justifying myself," he said, and added, 
seeing her flush, "Don't be hurt, my darling. It's simply 
that if I have to cope with it, I'll have to do it alone and at 
the proper time." 

"I'm sorry, Martin," Valerie said. "I want to help not 
to be bothersome. Go on with what you were saying." 

"Where was I?" 

"You were saying about why you came to Felling, and 
about me." 

"About you?" said Lambert. "Yes . . . about you. I'd 
almost forgotten what you looked like. At least, I remem 
bered you as a child a rather pleasant, mousy child 
well-brought-up and shy. ..." 

"I see!" said Valerie. "Do you remember giving me a 
sprig of wistaria when you were last at Felling in the 
garden?" 

"No, I don't," Lambert answered. "Why?" 

"It's not important," said Valerie. "I just wondered. Go 
on." 

"I was saying I'd more or less forgotten that you existed. 
And then, when I saw you when I held your hand behind 
the chair rather guiltily . . ." 

"Why guiltily?" 

212 



"Well " his voice quickened "it was a form of dis 
loyalty to your father. He'd given me privileged access to his 
house " 

"But it was my fault as well. ... I wanted you to hold 
my hand . . . and it was wonderful. It's what I think 
of most when I think about you the feel of your hand.'* 

For a while Lambert drove without speaking. At last he 
said, "You see, it coincided with all this other business 
the Brangwyn Report, Baggott the whole lot. And in all 
the misery you were there. It made everything else seem 
trivial. Everything. The Foreign Office, newspapers, promo 
tion, even wars. They all fell away from my thought. You 
were the centre, and everything else was on the circum 
ference." 

"And Eleanore?" 

"And Eleanore. For years it's been useless." 

And, as if irrelevantly, he remembered her early in their 
marriage at the Kembal Point-to-point when she had run 
across the fields, a scarf over her hair, to the third jump, and 
he had followed her with the shooting-stick. She had been 
very beautiful with her pale fair hair and glowing skin, 
taller than Valerie, athletic and graceful. 

With the memory of Eleanore in his mind, he returned, 
with a faint discontent, to Valerie on whose chin the setting 
sun illuminated a small pustule. She took his left hand, 
kissed it, and said, "Your hand's cold, darling," and laid it 
against her breast. 

"And that's all there is to it," he said. 

"Pull up by those trees," Valerie said. He turned into the 
shadow of a wood, and drove the car onto the grass. 

"What do you mean," she asked, "when you say, 'That's 
all there is to it'?" 

"I mean," he answered, "that I'm leaving tomorrow. I'm 
going to France." 

213 



"And me?" she asked quickly. He kissed her eyes and her 
lower lip. 

"You . . ." he began. 

"Yes, me," she said. "What about me?" 

"I'll be back next April," he said. 

"Martin," she said. "Let me come with you." 

"It's impossible . . . absolutely impossible." 

"Well, let me follow you next month. Please, Martin 
please. I'd do anything really I would. I'd be a domestic 
servant. I'd do anything." 

A car with headlights full on swept through the dusk and 
lit up her tense face. 

"Please, Martin . . ." she said, and he could feel the 
rapid beat of heart against his palm. 

He answered, "It's impossible, Valerie quite impossible. 
I've been thinking about it I have many difficulties too 
many. . . . The Foreign Office and your father my wife 
it's quite impossible." 

"But Martin my sweet, silly darling just because of the 
Foreign Office and my father and your wife and all the 
miseries to come the atom bomb and everything isn't 
that a perfect reason for going away and having some 
happiness? Isn't that reasonable?" 

"Not reasonable," said Lambert. "Wonderful without 
being reasonable." 

"And why did yon want to win two hundred and fifty 
pounds?" 

Lambert put his fingers over her ears and through her 
hair. 

"Because," he said, "I had a vague hope." 

"There!" she said triumphantly. "You do want me to 
come. . . . Darling Martin, I promise I won't be a nui 
sance. I've got a hundred and thirty pounds of my own. It'll 
last for ages. Next month . . . I'll make up some story or 

214 



other. I'll make Daddy let me go on a course or something. 
Will you, Martin?" 

He kissed her mouth, and she said, "Let's not go back yet. 
Have you ever been to Versailles?" 

"Yes." 

"What's it like?" 

"Big rambling dusty." 

"Will you take me there?* ' 

"Yes if you like." 

"And Pere-Lachaise?" 

"It's a cemetery." 

"I know. I want to see Chopin's grave. . . . And 
Armenonville will you take me to dance there?" 

"Not in winter. In the summer . . ." 

"That will do. But you will walk with me in the 
Tuileries?" 

"Yes." 

"Darling Martin." 

"Yes?" 

"I'm feeling wonderfully sleepy and tired." 

She took his arm, and pressed her face in his shoulder, 
and slowly, like that, they drove till the postern-light of the 
house came into sight. 

"Wake up, Valerie," he said. "We're home." 

"I'm awake," she said. "Martin, I didn't tell you this 
morning. Eleanore 'phoned." 

"When?" Lambert asked sharply. 

"Last night" 

"Did she leave any message?" 

"No." 

"And no address." 

"No. Please don't be angry." 

He took the steering wheel with both hands, and said, 
"I wish you'd told me earlier." 



Later, when they met in the hall, Valerie said, "There's 
something else, Martin." 

"What is it?" he asked, contrite at her doleful expression. 
"Don't worry about the telephone call. She'll ring again." 

"It isn't that," Valerie said, and began to speak more 
quickly. "I meant to tell you there was a letter for 
you. . . ." 

"All right," he said, "give it to me." 

"I opened it," she said. 

He looked at her in amazement. 

"I read it," she said, and, handing him the thin, wrinkled 
letter, ran past him upstairs. 



XIV 



"YOUR FRIEND BARRACLOUGH ..." Fergusson said, and his 
glance drifted away like an empty boat on a tide. Lambert, 
waiting for the sentence to end, watched his face in the 
shadow of the library lamp. But Fergusson had settled into 
the brooding contemplation of a private interest from which 
Lambert hesitated to divert him. 

"Yes," said Fergusson, returning to the conversation, "I 
find nowadays that the expectation of pleasure usually dis 
turbs my heart. The result is that I'm only fit for the most 
boring occasions. I was sorry I couldn't join you this after 
noon." 

"We were sorry, too," said Lambert. "Except at the end. 
There was an absolute chaos at the car-park." 

"So I hear," said Fergusson, pouring a glass of sherry for 
Lambert. "So I hear. Barraclough ... He was here about 
an hour ago." 

"He must have driven pretty fast." 

"Oh, well," said Fergusson, casually, "he had no reason 
to dawdle. He said he'd call again. And by the way, Martin," 
Fergusson rose and leaned against the fireplace, "he asked 
me to thank you for Graziella II. He made a killing 
something like two pounds three. . . ." 

Lambert drank his sherry, and said, "You see how close 
our friendship's become. We'll soon be on Christian name 
terms." 

217 



He felt the crisp paper of Eleanore's letter in his pocket, 
and wanted, in the hiatus of Fergusson's thought and speech, 
to re-read the small, neat handwriting as he had already 
done twice since his return.". . . say, one hundred pounds, 
it would be a great help." And he determined, as soon as he 
reached London, to go to his bank and arrange for the sale 
of two hundred pounds' worth of Government stock that he 
had kept in reserve. "I am feeling so much better. I don't 
see anyone, and don't want to." Lambert smiled to himself 
and wondered for how long. ". . . And if I end this letter 
by saying that I love you . . ." 

He dismissed the words from his mind, as he heard Fer- 
gusson say, "He already calls you Martin behind your 
back." 

"Well, I'd return his courtesy if I knew his first name. 
But there are some people who never have first names. 
Barraclough's one of them, I suspect." 

Fergusson put his glass down, still half-full, and said, 
"Let's go in to dinner." 
"What about Valerie?" 

Fergusson, who was already walking towards the library 
door, stopped and said, "Valerie has a headache. She won't 
be coming down. You see, Martin, there are one or two 
matters I want to talk to you about. I've already spoken to 
Valerie, and I was anxious for us . . ." His voice faded, 
and he said, "At any rate, let's have dinner." 

"I don't think so," said Lambert, returning to his chair. 
"I'd much prefer to know now what you want to talk 
about." 

"Very well," said Fergusson, "I can tell you very briefly." 

And the thought that Valerie, in taking the letter, had 

merely anticipated some presumptuous lecture by her 

father, stirred in Lambert a double resentment. ". . . how 

it was our love and happiness came to ruin. . . ." Those 

218 



were private words that only he and Eleanore could under 
stand. And he tightened his grip on the letter in shame that 
once he had confided his unhappiness about Eleanore to 
Fergusson, and in anger that the words had lain naked 
under a stranger's curiosity. 

Fergusson took a pile of books from a chair, and dropped 
them on the floor. Then, settling himself into the seat, 
he said, 

"I am going to speak plainly to you, Martin. If I am mis 
taken in my judgments, I have no doubt you will tell me. 
And if I wound you by anything that is a misjudgment, I 
hope you'll forgive me." 

He spoke without looking at Lambert. 

"You see, Martin/' he said, "for the last few days I've 
been anxious for you and for myself." 

"You need have no anxiety for yourself," Lambert inter 
posed quickly. "I've told Barraclough . . . I've explained 
to him that this is the first time I've been here for 
years. . . ." 

"My dear fellow," said Fergusson, waving the explanation 
away, "that's not it at all. Not at all. I'm not thinking of 
that. When I say 'myself,' I mean that I am anxious " he 
spoke more slowly now "anxious about Valerie. She's 
a child still. She's a child. A rather uninformed and in 
genuous child. All this rather sophisticated excitement 
it isn't good for her. You understand, Martin, don't you?" 

"Not really," said Lambert, looking straight at Fergus- 
son, who was sitting with his chin sunk on his chest. "I can't 
think of Valerie in those terms they don't define her at all. 
She's eighteen. You've described someone in a gym-slip." 

("Please, Martin, let me come home . . ." It was too late. 
Much too late to start again.) 

"That wasn't my intention," said Fergusson. "Perhaps I 
should have been more exact. I was telling you, Martin, 

219 



somewhat euphemistically, that Valerie is a great deal 
younger than you are, that she is, in fact, on the threshold of 
her adult life and that you " 

"Well?" said Lambert. 

"How old are you?" Fergusson asked. "Thirty-eight, 
thirty-nine?" 

"I'm thirty-nine." 

"Thirty-nine," Fergusson repeated. "Thirty-nine. Valerie 
was born in the year you left Cambridge. Does that explain 
my meaning to you?" 

Lambert didn't answer. 

"She's been talking to me in the last day or two," said 
Fergusson, "about going to France." 

He paused, and Lambert watched him forming his next 
phrase. 

"She is very eager to go excessively eager to go," said 
Fergusson. "Can you explain her urgency?" 

"I don't know," said Lambert. "I can only guess. And I 
imagine . . ." 

"Never mind," said Fergusson. "I think you have taken 
my point. You're leaving tomorrow, Martin, and you've got 
a lot to disturb you." 

With a slight gasp, he heaved himself from his chair. 

"But what I want to convey to you is this. I am very 
concerned that Valerie should be happy, and free from 
unnecessary torments. When I saw her tonight, she appeared 
to have been weeping. ... If her mother were alive, it 
would be different. As it is, the responsibility is mine. 
There's nothing I wouldn't do to keep her from coming to 
harm. Absolutely nothing. You understand that?" 

"Yes," said Lambert. "I understand that perfectly." 

"In that case," said Fergusson, "I think we can go in and 
dine." 



He led the way across the hall, humming a tuneless im 
provisation. 

When Lambert finished packing his suitcase, he looked in 
the drawer for his passport, but, not finding it there, de 
cided that he must have left it in the jacket of his other suit, 
and that early next morning, he could repack the case that 
now gaped, open and inflated, on the floor. If he arrived in 
London before one o'clock he would have time to go to 
the bank, buy his air-ticket, and take the evening aeroplane 
to Paris. At worst, should he not get a seat, he could take the 
night ferry. Once he had reached Paris, he would be able to 
disengage himself from Barraclough, the intrusive ques 
tions, the obsessive names and be able to consider calmly 
and without hurry what he should do next. 

He would tell no one that he had arrived. Instead of 
staying at the Castiglione as he usually did when in Paris, 
he would go immediately to the Boudin in the Boulevard 
Raspail, and there in privacy, he would wait. He wasn't 
sure about his letters. He could arrange later for them to be 
forwarded. With fifty pounds' worth of currency, he could 
live in a small hotel for several weeks. A room, a light lunch, 
a moderate dinner. Lambert remembered a few days that 
he had spent in Paris at the end of the war, when he had felt 
free as he had not felt since he had been an undergraduate. 
Without duties to anyone, an individual, released from 
orders. And the thought of the Boudin with its narrow en 
trance hall, the cashier in black behind the counter, the 
porter in the foreground of his board of thirty keys, and the 
lift, big enough for two people and valises, that never broke 
down, was like the expectation of a holiday. 

After, say, three days, he would telephone Osborne and 
Carter-Brown at the Embassy. It depended, of course, on 

221 



what the P.M. said, but by then the whole affair might have 
blown over. 

Lambert got into bed, and began to read for the third 
time the Guardian's leading article on the Brangwyn 
Report. 

"No one," it said, "would be more relieved than the 
Prime Minister if he could assure the nation that the Re 
port, published so inopportunely for Western collaboration 
and our hopes for the Rome Conference, is a forgery. Yet, 
if as the authority of Le Monde Populaire suggests, the Re 
port is an authentic document, then despite the deplorable 
circumstances of its arrival in the hands of the French press, 
the Prime Minister has a twofold duty to assure Parlia 
ment that Britain does not intend a disengagement from her 
old and steadfast ally, and, of equal importance to our 
safety, that those guilty of a damaging betrayal should be 
sought out and punished." 

Lambert put the paper down and lit a cigarette. Brang 
wyn had delivered the paper. Brangwyn had thought out the 
whole idea. Brangwyn was responsible for the Conference's 
failure even to begin. From the first it was what he had 
wanted, and Padley had known it, but he hadn't been strong 
enough to resist him. And Baggott, Barraclough, the officials 
and the policemen they didn't care whose idea it was. All 
they wanted was a capture Sparr-Gamby, himself, anyone. 
"But you did give Augier the report?" Barraclough had 
said. And he had answered, "Yes." 

But he would wait. He would get a job in Paris. Per 
haps he might write under a pseudonym, and become the 
Paris correspondent of some London newspaper. With care 
Delavigne was always pressing him to stay at his house in 
Touraine he might manage after all, he knew large 
numbers of people who were always offering him hospitality 
Vaudrin, Chambord, Priedieu, de la Motte, and Lebras- 



222 



seur he might manage to last out three or four months, 
even without a job. Eleanore would have to know. He 
couldn't shelter her from it any longer. 
And Valerie. Valerie. 

The house had fallen into silence, except for an oc 
casional creak of the furniture and joists. "It's a very old 
house," Valerie told him in the garden years ago. "We used 
to have lots of mice, but one night we set traps for them. 
The whole place rattled like castanets. They're gone now." 

And he thought of Eleanore, looking with him over 
the balustrade of the skating rink at the foot of the sky 
scraper of Rockefeller Plaza. The flags were blowing in the 
wind, and the skaters, wrapped against the cool autumn 
air, were circling on the pale-blue ice in time to a waltz. 
He had put his arm around her shoulders, and her face was 
laid close against his. 

"I like this," he said. "It's very gay." 

And she said, 

"It's so fantastic. It's like a mother suckling a child in the 
middle of a battlefield." 

He had laughed, but her face was grave, and a few seconds 
later they became tired of the chain of skaters and walked 
back to their hotel on East Forty-eighth Street. That was 
when they were on their way home from Chicago. 

Not long afterwards, he had come to Felling to see Fergus- 
son. In those days, Valerie was still a child, her features 
indeterminate and her general appearance artless, subdued 
by her father's presence Into a prim timidity. 

Smoking in the darkness, Lambert remembered how 
when Fergusson had left them together, the first time, she 
had begun to tell him about Miss Fretts and Convocation 
Day. ("Don't let the purser get you," Walker said to him 

223 



and Eleanore at the crowded cocktail party in their cabin 
before they sailed. "Boy, he'll bore the pants off you!") She 
had spoken at length about Miss Fretts and Convocation, 
and his mind had played on other matters, till in relief he 
had invited her to walk in the garden. After that, he had 
forgotten her. She had merged with the handshakes of his 
work. When he met her again, it was as if he were meeting 
someone whom he had never seen before; nor could Fer- 
gusson's endeavour to relate her to the short schoolgirl who 
had hurried at his side, talking rapidly, have any validity. 

Idly, and without deliberation, he had allowed his hand 
to trail close to hers, and her fingers had touched and 
crooked in his, as if it were proper that it should be so, and 
as if the understanding were complete that it should be 
surreptitious; and their hands had begun, hidden from the 
sight of Fergusson, their tentative conversation, an anti- 
phon, swelling in secret, their palms, moist and earnest, 
moving in a slow rotation. Whether it was right or wrong, 
good or bad, that was how it had begun. She was no longer 
a child, but a woman, listening to Fergus-son's threnody, his 
lament over life. 

"He'll bore the pants off you," a voice intervened in 
Lambert's drowning mind, and feeling the cigarette end 
burning his finger, he stubbed it out in the ashtray. 

And if she wanted to leave this atmosphere of pessimism 
and decay, to escape from Fergusson's regrets and exchange 
them for her own satisfactions! Lambert remembered her 
face and her mouth and her hands, the Boudin, and the 
window on the Boulevard Raspail, the occasional voices in 
the middle of the night and the long looking-glass reflecting 
the street-lamps. After he had been there two or three days, 
she would meet him in the lounge, and they would go to his 
room, and he would help her to take off her coat, facing her, 
seeing behind her shoulder the reflection of her neck and 

224 



the two strands of hair in the looking-glass. Far away from 
Barraclough and Fergusson and the Foreign Office and 
Eleanore, alone and liberated, they would lie awake in the 
darkness, while he watched the outline of her young face 
against the window, with hope in the days to come. 

The stench of the burning aeroplance came back to him, 
and he turned his face into the pillow, trying to remember 
Valerie, but instead the image of Eleanore returned to his 
mind. During the war, on embarkation leave, he had taken 
Eleanore from London to spend the last night in a small 
Surrey hotel. Their bedroom faced north, and throughout 
the early hours they had lain listening to the tremble of 
guns around London, and watched the quivering lights on 
the horizon. 

Eleanore said to him, "I'm terribly afraid of dying 
terribly. I sometimes stay awake for hours thinking about 
being nothing. I find it so horrible to think of being 
nothing. . . ." 

Close to the bed, his uniform slouched over a chair, and 
he could see the buttons glittering in the gun-flashes. 

"And sometimes/' she went on, talking with her mouth 
on his lip, "I'm afraid to shut my eyes, because I'm afraid 
that if I shut them I won't wake up again. But when I'm 
with you, I'm never afraid of anything. I feel so safe and 
secure, and I don't even mind dying." 

"You must go to sleep," he had said. The mutter of 
aeroplanes overhead was fading, and the sky had become 
dark again. 

"I don't want to sleep," she answered. "I want to be 
awake all night with you, and be conscious of you every 
second. Please tell me, darling, you will write to me 
often. . . ." 

"Very often. . . ." 

"Every day?" 

225 



"As often as I can/ 1 

"And you won't fall in love with some Italian or Arab 
or A.T.S. girl. Promise!" 

"I promise." 

Soon afterwards, she fell asleep, and he watched her pro 
file against the window for hours till the day broke, and he 
too slept. When they awoke, the sun was already warm, and 
they could hear a convoy that was moving away from its 
assembly point under the pine trees. 

"Oh, darling/' Eleanore said, "it's tomorrow morning/* 
And added quickly, "I'm not going to cry/' 

"In that case," Lambert answered, "I'll ring for break 
fast." 

And she had said, "Not yet." 

He thought of the faces in silhouette against the sky, and 
that if his happiness with Eleanore after the war had merely 
been intervals in misery, so too their miseries had been in 
tervals in happiness. At Megve, Dijon, Rome those were 
long, relaxed months of delight when they had seemed 
able to forgive each other their accumulation of harm and to 
expunge their bitterness. But at other times, like a germ 
that works in the blood till it bursts into a high fever, their 
memory exploded into bitter, unrestrained reproach. 

"The leaves are falling in the Pincio Gardens . . ." 
Eleanore had written. They sat in the open air, looking at 
the dancers in the Casino, and afterwards, in the dusk, they 
walked through the gardens past the alley-way of peeling 
statues to the children's fountain by the cypress trees. They 
had watched a small boy probing the water with a stick, 
under the screaming admonitions of his mother from a 
nearby bench. 

226 



"Have you caught any fish?" Eleanore asked the boy "in 
Italian. But the child didn't answer, and when she repeated 
her question, he ran terrified to his mother. They took a 
horse-drawn cab, and drove back in silence to their hoteL 

"You too might have had some part in the unhappiness 
we shared . . ." she had written. Perhaps she was right. 
"Par dessus les etoiles, par dessus les arbres . . /' Nicholas: 
Nicholas would never come back. And Eleanore in nurs 
ing homes and hotels: Awake at night, afraid of being 
nothing: And of Nicholas being nothing. ". . . par dessus 
les arbres, qu'y a-t-ilf Qu'y a-t-il?" 

"And if I end this letter by saying I love you . . ." 

They had loved each other, and been separated by wars 
and hotels and duties. He heard Eleanore's voice in his 
mind, and wished he had spoken to her on the telephone. 
And at that moment, Valerie seemed an officious stranger 
who had interfered without understanding. 

In the morning. In the morning when he had got rid of 
Barraclough, he would try and telephone Eleanore. The 
Regina. Eleanore Lambert. The Regina, 

He stepped from the lift and walked into the cylinder. 
Nicholas sat there smiling. "Where's the exit, Nicky?' 7 he 
asked. Someone was rattling at a locked door. "It's all 
right/' said Eleanore. "It's a dream. They're trying to get 
in." 

In his sleep, Lambert struggled to call her name, groaned 
and awoke, drenched in sweat and panting. The sadness of 
Eleanore's face; Nicholas, smiling and dead. And outside 
the door an amorphous horror trying to get in. Lambert 
lay unmoving till his rapid heart-beat had become more 
tranquil. A few seconds later, he heard a light knock at the 
door. Again his heart began to beat faster as if the dream 

227 



were transposed into reality. 

"Who's there?" he asked. 

The handle turned slowly, and the door opened inch by 
inch. 

"It's me, Valerie. I heard you call out," Valerie said in a 
whisper from the half-open door. "Is anything wrong?" 

Lambert sat up, and said, "No. There's nothing wrong." 

"Would you like anything a glass of water?" 

"No. Come in and shut the door." 

Lambert switched on the light, and she stood, barefoot, in 
the blue dressing gown. 

"Come here, Valerie," he said. "Sit on the bed. I want to 
talk to you." 

Seeing that he didn't smile, she went and sat on his bed, 
and said, "Well?" 

Then she touched his damp forehead with her fingers, 
and said again, "Is anything wrong?" 

"No," he repeated, "there's nothing wrong. I had a bad 
dream. Valerie, you know I'm leaving tomorrow." 

"What time are you going?" 

She had begun to shiver, and he took her hand in his. 

"I'm leaving early. After breakfast." 

"And me what about me?" 

"I'll write to you later on." 

"But . . . Are you still angry with me about the let 
ter ... about the 'phone call?" 

"No. I'm not angry not any more." 

"You see, I wanted to help you to keep you away from 
anything that might worry you. I knew that you already 
had so much to make you anxious and unhappy. Please, 
Martin I've been so miserable the whole evening. I 
haven't slept at all not at all." 

Lambert put his hand on her forearm in the sleeve of her 
dressing gown, and looked at her tormented face. 

228 



"Don't think about it any more, my darling," he said. 
"It's all over now. . . . Thank you thank you very much 
for trying to help me." 

"Please don't be ironic. . . ." 

"I'm not ironic. I mean it very sincerely. One day, when 
I remember you and Felling, I will remember most of all, 
my darling Valerie, that you 'tried to help me." 

"And can't I really help you? I so much want to give you 
happiness." 

He drew her face down to the pillow, and examined it 
slowly. 

"I can see one of your eyes," she said. "Your right eye." 

And he said, "You look very young. And so very pretty." 

"I am very young," she answered solemnly. "But not very 
pretty." 

"As young as when I first saw you." 

"I love you," she said. "I think of you all the time, and 
love you. I'll always love you. You think that because I'm 
so young I can't feel love . . ." 

"No. I don't think that." 

". . . or that it's not real love. It's real to me. Terribly 
real, and acute." 

He kissed the side of her mouth and said, "I wonder if 
in a year's time . . ." 

"In a year's time and ten years' time and . . . Oh, 
Martin. You will meet me in Paris. Please, Martin, please!" 

"It's impossible," he said, raising her up. "It's im 
possible." 

"But you promised ..." 

"It was a phantasy a daydream. You mustn't leave your 
father. Not yet. He was absolutely right when he spoke to 
me this evening. ..." 

"But you said . . ." 

"I know. ... I was wrong." 

229 



She was sitting upright looking at him with affronted 
eyes. 

"How can you speak like that?" she asked him. "It was 
you who told me I was wasting my life here. You who said 
that Daddy had no right . . . How can you change so 
suddenly!" 

"I haven't changed/' he said, propping himself on his 
elbow. "I haven't changed at all. But all of a sudden I know 
that I must acquiesce in reality." 

"I don't know what you mean/' she said. Her hand that 
he had taken in his had become limp and cold, and she 
looked across him at the wall. 

"I mean/' said Lambert, "that I bring with me too many 
burdens, too many uncertainties. You mustn't begin your 
adult life in a dingy French hotel with a married man 
who is running away from his troubles." 

"But if we love each other ..." she said, and he was 
silent. 

"Doesn't that mean anything?" she asked. "You said . . ." 
Her voice faded away, and he felt her palm in his, inert and 
listless. 

"Good-night," he said. "My dear, darling Valerie." 

She got up from the bed, and walked slowly in her bare 
feet to the door. She opened it cautiously, and it squeaked 
a little. Then she turned, her eyes welling with tears, and 
said in a loud whisper, "Good-night, Martin," and ran down 
the passage to her room. 



XV 



"THERE'S TWO MEN to see you," said Margaret, switching 
on the light, and putting the cup of tea at the side of the 
bed. She closed the windows, and peered out at the mist- 
covered fields. "It's nasty," she said. "Do you want the fire 
on?" 

"What's the time, Margaret?" Lambert muttered, open 
ing his eyes slowly and looking at the halo of light thrown 
by the lamp on the ceiling, and from there to the bowl of 
dahlias that Valerie had put on his dressing table the day 
he arrived. 

"It's ten past seven," she said. "They said you wasn't 
to hurry. What shall I tell them?" 

Lambert pulled himself up in the bed, and rested his 
face in his hands for a few seconds before answering her. 

"Tell them to wait in the library," he said. "What are 
they doing now?" 

"They're outside." 

"All right, thank you, Margaret. I'm sorry they disturbed 
you." 

"I'm always up at quarter to seven," she said proudly. 
"Wouldn't know what to do if I laid in after that." 

As soon as she had left the room, Lambert turned off the 
light and went to the window. In front of a black car parked 
diagonally between his own car and the gate, Barraclough, 

231 



wearing an overcoat and scarf, and the shorthand-writer, 
bareheaded and coatless, were walking up and down in 
conversation. Their voices were lowered and muted by the 
window-glass, and they moved discreetly over the crunching 
gravel as if they were reluctant to disturb the household. 
Lambert heard the door open and Barraclough paused; 
with his breath turning to vapour in the cold air, he spoke 
to the shorthand-writer who climbed into the black car 
and reversed it till it completely blocked the gateway. Then 
he saw Barraclough remove his hat, and lead the way into 
the house. 

Lambert put on his dressing gown, and drank the luke 
warm tea. Immediately, it regurgitated in a sour vomit that 
he swallowed in disgust, and he stretched himself flat on his 
face, listened to the waking house, the whine of the vacuum 
cleaner and Barraclough's voice from below, till the nausea 
had receded and the sudden sweat had begun to dry. 

Honour the dead. Say prayers in the Abbey. March in 
procession with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the 
Opposition and the Lord Chancellor. Say nothing to dim 
the glory of the great man who died performing his duty. 
And if anyone said Brangwyn was misguided or in error, 
hang him. 

So now he would go to London with Barraclough. And 
then they would charge him under the Act of 1911, the 
Official Secrets Act, that existed like death for other people. 
For the camper on the road to Le Lavandou, who began the 
day in hope, and ended it, a cadaver drained of blood, 
gawked at by the passers-by. Again the surge of nausea, and 
Lambert stuffed his hand against his mouth. The vomit 
squirted in thin yellow streams between his fingers. 

The mumble of Barraclough's voice continued, inter 
rupted every now and again, by laughter. 

"Oh, for God's sake shut upl" Lambert said aloud. "Shut 

232 



up!" He rose decisively from the bed and washing in the 
basin, trying to remove the lingering stench of his sickness. 
The cold water dribbled against his face, and he dried him 
self roughly. As he did so, he glanced at the open suitcase, 
and remembered that somewhere inside it, among his suits 
and shirts, was his passport. 

With his passport, he felt safe. There was still no charge 
against him. They couldn't take his passport away without 
a charge. "We, Andrew Brangwyn . . ." We, Andrew 
Brangwyn, still requested and required everyone to let him 
pass without let or hindrance. Lambert recalled that he had 
put the passport in the breast-pocket of his dark suit which 
now lay at the bottom of the case, and he pushed his hand 
down the side, fumbling in the folds of cloth for the hard, 
flat surface. His fingers felt gently between the layers. They 
touched a forgotten handkerchief in an inside pocket, the 
sole of a shoe that for a moment he mistook for a cardboard 
cover, and a Penguin novel. Irritated, he began to take the 
garments from the suitcase, one by one the crumpled 
shirts, the pullover and the two suits that he had packed so 
neatly. He unfolded them, felt in the pockets, and threw the 
suits onto the arm-chair. The passport wasn't there. 

He stood still, wondering where else he might have left 
it; and then he searched the room systematically first the 
pockets of his dressing gown, then the suit he was about to 
wear, his coat on the peg behind the wall, the wardrobe, 
and, pulling them out with increasing violence, the drawers 
of the dressing table. Except for a lining of brown paper, 
they were empty and smelt of dust. 

"Well, Lambert?" 

Lambert finished drying his razor blade before he turned 
to face Barraclough who came quietly into the room. 
"Don't you knock?" he asked him. 

233 



"I did," said Barraclough. "You said, 'Come in/ You've 
forgotten. When will you be ready to leave?" 

" Where are we going?" Lambert asked. 

"We have to be at the War Office by half past two. It's 
pretty foggy." 

Lambert drew on a white shirt which he had laid out on 
the bed, and said, "What about my car?" 

"I've arranged for it to be garaged," said Barraclough. 

"Will I be back by tomorrow?" 

"I shouldn't think so," said Barraclough. 

"I see," said Lambert, and he chose a grey tie from the 
jumble of the clothes on the arm-chair. 

Barraclough sat on the bed, smoking his pipe, and watch 
ing Lambert dress. 

"Will you be ready in half an hour?" he asked. 

Lambert stopped in the middle of knotting his tie, and 
said, "Look here, Barraclough. I'd like to put through a 
call to Italy before we go to my wife. Is that all right?" 

Barraclough covered the bowl of his pipe with a box of 
matches to help it draw, and sucked for a few seconds be 
fore answering. 

"Well that's all right old man so long as you don't 
mind me listening." 

"You can listen as much as you like. . . ." 

"And as long," Barraclough added, "as you're not think 
ing of joining her in Italy in the near future." 

"As far as that's concerned," Lambert said, continuing to 
dress, "you can mind your own damn business." 

"Well/' said Barraclough deprecatingly. "It's all aca 
demic. You haven't got your passport." 

"How do you know?" Lambert asked. He had started to 
repack his suitcase, and, for a fraction of a second, he felt 
a stir of nausea again. 

"You haven't got your passport/' said Barraclough, "for 

234 



the very straightforward reason that I've got it." 

"You've got it," said Lambert, advancing towards him. 

Barraclough put out his hand, wardingly. 

"Now then, Lambert," he said. "Don't be silly. YouVe 
been doing very well so far." 

"What right . . ." Lambert began. 

"None," said Barraclough. "If you want to, you can fight 
that out later. There'll be places for you to do it. But I 
think you ought to know . . ." 

He paused and reflected. 

". . . You ought to know," he went on, "that Fergusson 
who after all is the master of the house your host 
Fergusson invited me into your room his room." 

"Fergusson gave you my passport?" 

"No, no," said Barraclough, shaking his head in negation. 
"Fergusson wouldn't do anything so ungentlemanly. What 
ever you may think of him, he is a man of breeding. . . . 
Oh no, all that Fergusson did was telephone me yesterday 
to say that you were leaving that you were planning to go 
abroad." 

"And . . . ?" 

"And . . . well, I obtained some further instructions 
from London, and called on you in your absence. . . . 
Thanks awfully, by the way for Graziella. We did very 
nicely. I wish I could have stayed till the end." 

Lambert clicked the lock of his suitcase into position, 
and said, "And then, I suppose, you came here and Fergus- 
son showed you to my room, and you and he ferreted 
through my pockets." 

"No, really," said Barraclough in protest. "You mustn't 
be so hard on Fergusson. He didn't ferret. I did. He merely 
gave me some general guidance. Don't look so disgusted, my 
dear fellow." 

"I'm . . . I don't know . . ." said Lambert. "I somehow 



can't imagine Fergusson telephoning you furtively lead 
ing you up the stairs standing guard while you searched 
watching you go through my clothes. It's unlike him." 

"We're all unlike ourselves at certain moments," said 
Barraclough. "In times of crisis we either rise above, or fall 
below, ourselves. And poor old Fergusson, you'll agree, 
was faced with a crisis. You do agree, don't you?" 

"I don't know what you mean." 

"I think you do," said Barraclough standing. "You re 
member Othello" his voice became rhetorical " 'Most 
potent, grave, and reverend signiors . . . that I have ta'en 
away this old man's daughter, it is most true.' See what I 
mean now? It was very hard for Fergusson to do what he 
did. Very hard indeed. But even loyalties have a certain 
order of priority fortunately!" 

"You've made it too simple," said Lambert. 

"I have to deal with things as they are. The old man 
thought you were going off with his daughter. Not an un 
usual situation. He wanted to stop it. And did so." 

"You've made it too simple," said Lambert again. "Much 
too simple." And the memory of Valerie sank away from 
his thought. 

"At any rate," said Barraclough. "All that's a side-show 
as far as I'm concerned. I'd like to leave in half an hour. 
What number do you want?" 

Lambert took the letter from his pocket, and read out 
Eleanore's telephone number to Barraclough. 

"I'll get it for you," said Barraclough. "And see that you 
have some breakfast. We've got a long day, old chap." 

Valerie in her room listened to the unfamiliar voices 
from downstairs. They were subdued and reticent, alien 
like the long black car that straddled the drive. In the 
window at the angle of the house, she could see Margaret 

236 



and the char-woman staring out over Caz's shoulder, their 
faces eager and inquisitive and condoling. And she remem 
bered that it had been like that when her mother died. All 
one day there had been arrivals and departures. The doctors 
who had tilted her chin. The strange men in dark clothes. 
The visitors. And then, after a week, when it was all over, 
the black cars. She hadn't really understood what was going 
on. Her father had been specially kind and forbearing 
during the time her mother was dying, and encouraged her 
to go to gymkhanas. Even the day of her death had seemed 
merely like an interruption in the household's routine. It 
was only much later when she remembered her mother and 
the leaden day of her funeral that she lay on her bed in 
remorse and wept inconsolably for the tenderness that was 
irrevocably gone and for the lost occasions of love. 

That's how it was now. The car was there, and the house 
seemed full of people performing some horrid ceremony. 
The days had gone as if they hadn't happened, as if she 
hadn't longed and waited for Lambert's coming, as if he 
hadn't taken her hand in that poignant evening that now 
seemed infinitely far away, as if he hadn't held her and 
kissed her and filled her with a promise of liberty and 
happiness remote from Felling. 

And she was still unsure, just as she had been unsure the 
very first evening when his lingers had touched hers be 
neath the book and remained there. He was going away, 
and she was unsure of everything, except that she would 
always love him. Always, always, always. She began to cry 
again, but she wiped her eyes hurriedly with the back of 
her hand. She didn't want her father to see she'd been cry 
ing. He'd already said enough cutting and wounding things. 
"If you cry any more," he said, "they'll think you've taken 
to drink." And as she looked at her inflamed nose and 
swollen eyelids, she agreed. 



But she hated her father. Of that she was certain. She'd 
never forgive him never, for destroying so brutally the 
wonderful prospect. The Tuileries. The banks of the 
Seine. The bateaux mouches. The mother-of-pearl light. A 
St. Blaise a la zuecca. No more of that. Only Felling. The 
journey they'd planned. Walking hand-in-hand along the 
quais. All over. And all because of her father who would sit 
opposite her at dinner for ever. For ever and ever. The 
face. Red, angry and tufted. 

And as she thought of him, she said to herself, "Poor 
Daddy! Poor darling Daddy!" And all her hatred dwindled 
away because he was old and wouldn't live very much longer 
and the time would come when she would miss him and the 
face wouldn't be there at all for her to complain about; and 
because he meant everything for the best, and loved her. 

There were other matters, too, that she didn't under 
stand. 

Valerie put on her glasses, and powdered her face. 

The Brangwyn Report. He would explain all that. Her 
father had used the word "treason," but that was silly. 
Treason had something to do with the Tower of London 
and impeachment. She wondered if she'd see him again. 
Perhaps in London or somewhere. 

Valerie pulled out her museum drawer and was about to 
close it again, but the photograph of Lambert and his wife 
at Megeve caught her attention. Delicately, she took out the 
press cuttings and spread them over her dressing table. 
Somebody was walking in the corridor, and, in a sudden 
alarm, Valerie went to the door and locked it. Then she 
picked up the sprig of wistaria and laid it at the bottom of 
the photograph like flowers on the base of a shrine. 

She propped her face in her hands and began a long con 
templation of Lambert and his wife surrounded by their 

238 



friends with the gleaming mountain behind them. She 
looked from Lambert to Eleanore and said to herself, "She's 
very pretty.'* "She's very pretty," she repeated aloud. And 
the thought that Eleanore was pretty made everything much 
worse. Wiping her eyes with her hand, she carefully restored 
the newspaper-cuttings, the photograph and the wistaria to 
her museum. Then she took the race-card with Lambert's 
pencilled notes, and added it to the collection. 

"Hello, hello, Martin darling I'm so glad . . ." 
Eleanore's voice came clearly over the continental line, 
happy and alert. "What a wonderful surprise! I was so fed 
up when I missed you. I've been trying to get you all over 
the place. Hello . . . Martin?" 

The line had faded in a crackling of fragmented con 
sonants and vowels. 

"Hello," he called. "Hello." 

Her voice undulated, strengthening and weakening, but 
once more intelligible. 

"Can you hear me?" she asked. 

"Yes." 

"I said I was trying to get you all over the place." 

"I've been driving between here and London." 

"What's that?" 

"I've been going up and down to London. Can't you 
hear me?" 

"Yes, it's better now. Did you get my letter? Yes, you 
must have. There was some rather unhelpful person when 
I got through. . . . Oh Martin, it's so wonderful to hear 
your voice. Please stop mel I can't stop talking." 

In his arm-chair, with Barraclough and the shorthand- 
writer facing him, Lambert leaned back with his eyes closed, 
indifferent to their presence. 

"I'm so glad I managed to reach you," he said. "I was 

239 



afraid I might miss you . . ... that we'd miss each other 
again. Are you well?" 

"Wonderfully well. Don't I sound it? I went swimming 
again yesterday at Ostia!" 

It was like an old defiance. I went to the Burroughs! I 
went to the ball-game with Geoffrey! I went to the Phil 
harmonic with X and Y and Z! I went to Ed's with the 
crowd! Lambert recalled her expression, her eyes looking 
directly and unflinchingly at him in a form of candour 
that, like a decollete, revealed the provocation. 

He waited for her to continue. 

"Do you know whom I went with?" she said. 

"No," he answered and, resenting it, felt the tightening 
pang of jealousy. 

"No one," she said, and her voice was exhilarated. "No 
one. Not a soul. I don't see anyone, and don't want to. 
Martin. . . ?" 

"Yes, darling." 

"I want to ask you something . . . something terribly 
important." 

"What is it?" 

A carillon of bells interrupted her reply. Through their 
insistent jangle, he heard her say, "Wait a second, dearest. 
Don't go away. I'm going to shut the window." 

She returned to the telephone and said, "It's San 
Trinita." 

"What's that?" 

"The church . . . Martin?" 

"Yes?" 

"When can I come home?" 

"Well . . ." Lambert changed the position of the re 
ceiver, and said, "At this moment, Eleanore, I'm talking 
to you under difficulties." 

"In what way?" 

240 



He heard her voice tremble as if in expectation of some 
annihilating avowal. 

"I'm having some trouble at the F.O. . . . It's very 
serious. I have to go back to London this morning. After 
that I simply don't know . . ." 

"I'm sorry, darling. Terribly sorry. Is it very bad? Is 
it ... ?" 

"No/' he interrupted her. "Don't ask me any questions, 
Eleanore. I'm in serious trouble . . . it's to do with the 
Brangwyn Report. You must stay in Rome. I'll try and 
keep in touch. Eleanore ..." 

"Yes?" 

He could hear her voice, ebullient a moment ago and now 
half-defeated. 

"Eleanore. . . . Tell me about yourself. Are you sleep 
ing better?" 

"Oh, yes, darling. I do. I wake early in the morning at 
about six. But otherwise . . . Tell me more about your 
self, Martin. Darling Martin, I do so yearn to see you. . . ." 

"And your nightmares . . . ?" 

"They've all gone. Except the night I telephoned you and 
you weren't there. I was terrified in case something . . ." 

The line went dead for a second, and he only heard the 
last word "you." 

"And what about Courcin?" 

"Please, darling . . . please, please, believe me. ... It 
all belongs to something that had no real part in me. 
Nothing at all. Please, Martin, let me come home. I won't 
be a nuisance. I promise." 

Lambert held the telephone in his hand without replying, 
and she said, "Darling! Are you there, darling? I can't hear 
you." 

"You see, Eleanore," and Lambert visualised her face, 
her pale hair and her short straight nose and her full mouth, 

241 



"I don't want to involve you/' 

"But I am involved/' she said. "I'll always be involved in 
you. Always. . . . Whatever happens. Martin . . /' 

"Yes, my darling?" 

Her voice had taken decision. "When will you be in 
London?" 

"I'll be at the War Office this afternoon." 

"In that case, I'll be home by the end of the week." 

"But Eleanore . . /' 

"Did you send me the money?" 

"I'm arranging it today through the bank." 

"Good." Her voice was full of excitement and delight. 
"Martin," she said. "Martin." 

"Yes, Eleanore." 

"Nothing," she said. "I haven't seen you for such a long 
time. I just like saying your name." 

"We'd better get moving," said the shorthand-writer. 

"I'll get my bag," said Lambert. 

"Don't you trouble," said Barraclough. "Tom's seen to 
all that." 

In the hall, Lambert took his coat from the stand, and said 
to Barraclough, "I'd like to say good-bye to the Fergussons." 

"They're outside," said Barraclough. "They're waiting 
to see you off." 

Lambert opened the door to be greeted by Fergusson, in 
a brown tweed suit, side by side with Valerie at the head of 
the steps. 

"Good-morning, Martin," said Fergusson. "I'm afraid 
you've got a foggy drive." 

"I think it'll clear," said Lambert. 

"Yes," said Fergusson. "It often does." 

"We'd better get cracking," said the shorthand- writer, 
"if we're going to get there by two-thirty." 

242 



"Well," said Fergusson, stretching out his hand, "good 
luck, Martin." He hesitated in embarrassment. "I hope all 
goes well." 

''Thank you," said Lambert. "Thank you for your hos 
pitality." 

He looked quickly into Fergusson's face it was solemn 
and sympathetic and judicial and took his hand. 

"Good-bye," said Fergusson. "Good luck." 

Lambert turned to Valerie and said, "Good-bye, Valerie." 

They smiled to each other, a formal transitory smile. 

"I hope you enjoy St. Anne's. Thank you very much for 
all your kindness." 

She put out her hand awkwardly, and was about to say 
something, but her lips became dry and she lowered her 
face. They gave each other's hand a brief, hard shake. 

"Good-bye," Lambert said again, and ran down the steps 
to the car where Barraclough was already sitting at the 
wheel. The shorthand-writer had taken his place at the rear, 
and Lambert sat in front. 

As the car pulled away, he turned his head and saw 
Fergusson still standing on the steps, waving. Valerie had 
disappeared. 

Barraclough was cheerful. Despite the fog that was blow 
ing in vague gusts across the road, he had been driving 
steadily at nearly twenty-five miles an hour behind a coach, 
blazing like a liner at night, which was clearing a path for 
a long file of traffic. Every now and again, the coach would 
stop till a specially bad patch of mist was dispersed by the 
wind; then it would leap forward again while the flock of 
cars behind, fearful of losing their guide in the shrouds, 
would engage their gears noisily and urgently. 

"At this rate," said Barraclough. "Well be in London by 
half past one. What do you say, Tom?" 

243 



'It's letting up a bit," said the shorthand-writer who was 
leaning over the seat, between Lambert and Barraclough. 
"It gets up your nose." 

4 'Shall we have a bite at the Bell?" Barraclough asked. 
"What do you say, Lambert?" 

"I'm not particularly hungry," said Lambert. "But if you 
want to stop." 

"I'd like a drink," said the shorthand-writer. "Know if 
they've got Three Tuns at the Bell?" 

"Oh, yes," said Barraclough. "It's a Parker House/' 

"I can't drink anything else," said the shorthand-writer. 
"Bitter gives me indigestion." 

"Tom " said Barraclough, applying the brake unex 
pectedly. "Sorry, chaps. It's my pacemaker Tom is a 
natural target of the advertiser one of the psychosomatic 
victims. Tom's the man who only drinks Three Tuns, only 
smokes Five Stars and only washes in Two Foam. Isn't that 
right, Tom?" 

"Yes, sir," said the shorthand-writer, off ended. He sank 
back in his seat, and withdrew from the conversation. 

"You'd better eat something," Barraclough said to Lam 
bert. "You never know how long they'll keep you." 

"How long do you think it'll be?" Lambert asked. 

"Could be anything," said Barraclough. 

"Will I be able to get in touch with my bank? I'd like to 
have a word with Galloway too." 

"Galloway?" 

"My solicitor." 

"We'd better leave that till we get to the War House. 
Look here, old chap, can we be informal for a moment?" 

"I don't know," said Lambert, with reserve. "You can 
try." 

"Light me a fag, Tom/' Barraclough said, re-engaging the 
sympathies of the shorthand-writer. He lowered his voice. 

244 



"I think we can, Lambert/' he went on. "After all ... 
well, it's up to you." 

The fog was now almost clear, but a thin drizzle had be 
gun to fall, and Barraclough started the windscreen-wiper. 

"Look at this," he said. He took a newspaper-cutting from 
his pocket, and Lambert read, 

"Le texte public par Le Monde Populaire vrai on faux 
etait secret. S'il etait secret, ce n'etait pas par gout du 
mystere: c'etait parce que certains plans strategiques 
prevoyant differentes eventualites pour un conflit possible ? 
ne sont pas faits pour etre jetes en pdture a la curiosite 
publique, aussi chez les amis que chez les ennemis eventuels. 
Les divulguer qu'ils sotent vrais ou qu'ils soient faux 
c'est faire le jeu de I'ennemi et c'est jouer avec les nerjs, avec 
les nerfs des Frangais, qui seraient aux premieres loges 
d f une invasion." 

Lambert finished reading the newspaper extract and said, 
"Well?" 

"Well," said Barraclough, "it's all there. You see how 
the French have taken it. The Brangwyn Report true or 
false has played the enemy's game. And it's played on their 
own nerves. You see that, don't you?" 
, "I've seen it for a long time." 

"What is necessary now," said Barraclough, "is to damp 
it down. We've got to reassure them. Expunge the gaff." 

"What do you expect me to do?" 

"Quite frankly, Lambert and I'm speaking unofficially 
and quite informally and I'll swear black and blue that I 
never said this if it's ever challenged I'd have thought the 
very best thing for you would be to say this afternoon that 
you gave Augier a low-level background draft an un- 
minuted paper that hadn't yet gone up to the Minister." 

Lambert began to speak, but Barraclough went on, "Just 
follow me for a moment. If the report is treated as a re- 

245 



stricted paper well, there you are. It's an indiscretion 
This damned wiper's got stuck again." 

He tugged angrily at the switch, and the pendulum be 
gan its monotonous groaning again. Barraclough ac 
celerated, and the car hurried forward to sixty-five miles an 
hour along the dark, shining road. 

"You often give out general information from the De 
partment, don't you?" said Barraclough. 

"Regularly," said Lambert. 

"Well, there you are," said Barraclough in a friendly 
voice. "Put it this way. . . . Don't say it was an indiscre 
tion. Just say it was a mistake, an error of judgment. But 
take it from me once you drag in Brangwyn and Padley 
you've had it. At that point, it becomes a matter of high 
diplomacy a matter of handing over a state paper. They 
won't hang you for that, old chap. Not in time of peace. 
Not for giving it to an ally. But all the same it's ten years 
perhaps more. See what I mean?" 

"Yes," said Lambert. "I see." 

They were approaching the outskirts of London, and 
were passing through an area of modern factories. Barra 
clough slowed down to allow the workers who were de 
bouching from a gate on the bypass to cross the road. 

"But Brangwyn " said Lambert, and he saw in his mind 
the tall, arrogant figure throwing the typescript onto the 
table in front of the oil painting of George III. 

"Don't count on him," said Barraclough. "He's no longer 
on the telephone." 

"And Padley" 

"I shouldn't count on him either," said Barraclough. 
" You're on your own." 

Lambert saw Barraclough glance at the shorthand-writer 
in the driving-glass, and in that moment made his decision. 

"Thanks for your advice, Barraclough," he said. "I'm 

246 



much obliged." 

"That's it," said Barraclough encouragingly. "I'd say if I 
were you that you had the typescript it hadn't gone in the 
waste or even that you'd kept it there's nothing much in 
that and that you gave it to Augier or his friend as the 
case may be at the Academy. . . . You like pictures. . . . 
That's perfectly normal. . . . Nothing in that. . . . I'd 
just tell it to them straight like that. See what I mean?" 

"Yes, indeed I do/' said Lambert. "Perhaps I can put it 
like this . . ." 

Barraclough drove the car into the entrance of the Bell, 
braked, and waited with his hands on the wheel. 

"I'll say," Lambert went on, "that one day last week 
the Minister sent for me that Padley was there too. He 
gave me a paper to give through Augier to the Monde 
Populaire . . " 

Barraclough switched off the engine, and put the key in 
his pocket. 

". . . he said it would be a patriotic duty to do it." 

"But you didn't think so yourself," Barraclough said, 
opening the door of the car. His amiable manner had ebbed 
away, and his expression was official. 

"I'm not sure," said Lambert. And he thought of 
Eleanore at Bandol, and Brangwyn and the Pacific and the 
unforeseen prospects of employment. 

"I did it as a duty. But exactly what kind of duty, I 
couldn't tell you." 



XVI 



THEY SAT ON high stools at the snack-bar of the saloon which 
was rapidly filling with managers from the nearby factories, 
commercial travellers and a number of housewives from 
the villas on the arterial road. 

" Another two halves/' said Barraclough to the barmaid. 
"Three Tuns. Sure you won't have another?" he asked 
Lambert. 

"Quite sure, thanks," said Lambert. 

Beyond the bottles he saw their faces reflected in the 
long looking-glass that ran behind the bar, his own face 
between Barraclough and the shorthand-writer, a hap 
hazard conjunction like the unrelated faces of men in a 
queue. 

Behind and around them, the conversation had ac 
cumulated in a mounting roar, and the air was thick with 
the steamy atmosphere of wet coats drying and of cigarette 
smoke. Barraclough ordered another sandwich, and finished 
his glass of beer. 

"I'm looking forward to this evening," he said with satis 
faction. "I'm taking the family to the circus." 

"It's very early, isn't it?" said Lambert. 

"Yes," said Barraclough. "It's all part of Christmas itself 
starting earlier and earlier each year. Did you go last year?" 

"No," said Lambert. "I was let down by a number of 

248 



honorary nephews and nieces." 

Barraclough laughed, and said, "Come on. Have the other 
half. . . ." 

"All right/' said Lambert. 

"It isn't true," said Barraclough, beckoning to the bar 
maid, "that boys prefer the circus to girls." 

"Boys like clowns," said the shorthand-writer. "Girls 
prefer horses." 

"That may be," said Barraclough. "My daughters aged 
eight and six like the Wheel of Death, unbroken bronchos 
and knife^throwers in that order." 

"What are they called?" Lambert asked. 

"Constance and Caroline." 

"What pleasant names!" Lambert said. "Constance and 
Caroline I dislike the modern fashion of monosyllables. 
Constance and Caroline it's like a short poem in 
dactyls." 

The voice of the B.B.C. announcer reading the one 
o'clock news bore equably and unruffled against the ag 
gregate sound of talk, the shuffle of feet, the opening and 
closing doors and the calling of orders. 

"They're very prosaic," said Barraclough. "More like 
boys than girls. And if I'm not home by six tonight to take 
them to the circus, my name will be mud." 

Eleanore. Valerie . . . Dactyls: Nicholas. A long time 
ago he'd taken Nicholas and Eleanore to the circus. Nicholas 
had been frightened by the booming, spluttering motor 
cycles on the trapeze, and Eleanore had sat with her arm 
around him. That was a long time ago. 

Lambert drank the beer in a single gulp and wondered 
when he would see Eleanore again. 

"In Tunisia," said the announcer, "the twenty-four-hour 
strike called by the Tunisian trade unions for today has 
been only . . ." 

249 



"Why the hell . . . George . . . keeps the news at full 
blast . . ." someone said behind Lambert. 

"It's the weather report," a woman said. 

"Turn it up, George," a voice called out. 

"Interesting piece of lower-middle-class semantics," said 
Barraclough. "He means 'turn it down/ Instead, he says 
'turn it up/ " 

She had never lived in the flat not as her home. She'd 
stayed there twice in between her journeys to the South of 
France. She'd liked it. They had decided to redecorate it. 
She'd chosen new curtains and a new bed-cover. 

"... Two major exercises of naval and air forces of 
the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation," said the announ 
cer, and his voice dived in the air, reappearing with the 
words, ". . . understood the French cruisers, Gloire and 
Montcalm will not, under present arrangements, be taking 
part ..." 

"Leave it, please," said Barraclough sharply to the bar 
maid who was about to switch the wireless off. 

"There's nobody listening," she said. 

"I am," said Barraclough. 

She looked at him indignantly, and went murmuring to 
the other end of the counter. 

"There you are," said Barraclough. "More trouble." 

". . . The Leader of the Opposition, says our Parlia 
mentary correspondent, will ask the Prime Minister tomor 
row what discussions he has had with the French Govern 
ment concerning their decision not to participate in the 
naval NATO exercises; and whether this has any relation 
ship to the publication ..." 

"All right, Judy," said Barraclough. "You can turnlt up." 

The barmaid gave him an angry glance, like a mare, from 
the corner of one eye, and went on talking to a more 
favoured customer. 

250 



"Right," said the shorthand-writer. He wiped his mouth 
with a paper table napkin which he then rolled into a ball 
and threw onto the ground. 

"Come on, old chap/' said Barraclough to Lambert. 

Lambert started from his abstraction, and said, "Yes, I'm 
coming." 

Barraclough paid the bill, and the three men edged their 
way through the standing drinkers, followed by the even 
sound of the newsreader's voice. 

"... The Bishop of Man ton, Dr. Barwell, has entered 
Westminster Hospital for a minor operation. His condition 
is satisfactory ..." 

"Good," said Barraclough. 

He opened the door, and the shorthand-writer went out 
first with Lambert behind him. 

". . . The condition of Sir James Padley," said the an 
nouncer. Barraclough held the door, and someone brushed 
past him. 

". . . maintained," said the voice. The din rose again. 
"... consciousness, and has begun ..." 

The wireless was switched off and a foot closed the door 
with a kick from inside. Barraclough said to Lambert, "Did 
you hear that?" 

Lambert leaned against the car. His hands had begun to 
shake as if he had developed a violent fever. 

"I'm not sure," he answered. 

They approached the War Office through St. James's 
Park from Victoria Street. Barraclough glanced at the car- 
clock that said a quarter past two, and said, "We'll do it 
easily." Then he became silent as they drove down The 
Horse Guards Parade, now splendid with the sunlight on 
the fringing trees that were still wet from the earlier rain. 

"It's cleared up nicely," said the shorthand-writer when 

25 1 



they drew up at the War Office. 

"Put the car away, Tom/' said Barraclough crisply. 
"Yes, sir," said the shorthand-writer. 

"Afternoon, sir," said the attendant at the door. Barra 
clough flipped his hand, and walked rapidly up the stairs 
with Lambert at his side. At the first landing, a young man 
was waiting to receive them, and they walked, still at the 
same brisk rate, to a small room with a trestle-table at the 
end of the corridor. 

"What happens now?" Lambert asked. 

"You'd better take a seat," said Barraclough, his face set 
in a frown. As soon as he had left the room, the young man 
sat down opposite Lambert. 

"Would you like something to read?" he asked. 

"No, thanks," said Lambert. 

"Jolly good," said the young man. "I could only have 
offered you some back number of the Army Quarterly." 

Lambert folded his arms, and waited. And while he 
waited like a patient in a specialist's anteroom, his desperate 
fear of a mortal diagnosis alternately balanced by a hope 
of acquittal, a permission to live, he thought of Padley at 
the Foreign Office, of the fog-blown tarmac, inert in the 
hospital, and now at last, awake, bandaged but with his 
eyes open. Padley would speak for him. His lips moved as he 
repeated his thought. Padley was awake and would speak 
for him. And Eleanore was coming home. When the young 
man offered him a cigarette, Lambert didn't notice his 
outstretched hand. 

"Will you come with me?" said Barraclough. 

Lambert rose quickly to his feet, and followed Barra 
clough and the young man down the corridor into another 
small waiting room that had a trestle-table and two chairs. 

252 



"One moment," said Barraclough, and knocked at the 
door. 

"Yes," said a voice from inside. 

Barraclough threw the door open, beckoned to Lambert 
and stood briefly at attention. 

"Lambert, sir," he announced. 

In the embrasure of a tall, narrow window through which 
the sunlight flowed, three men were sitting at a table each 
with a folder of papers in front of him. To Lambert, coming 
from the dark inner room into the brilliant light, their 
faces seemed like the images in a negative, reversed and 
indistinguishable, 

"Take a seat, Lambert," said the man in the middle in a 
flat, neutral voice. 

Barraclough closed the door, and Lambert looked around 
him at the long, cell-like room with its high ceiling, at the 
men at the window and the men at the door. 

"Let's take it from the beginning," said the man in the 
middle. His colleagues opened their papers. 

Lambert's hands tightened their grip on his chair. Padley 
was awake. Padley had returned from the black, uncon 
scious world and would speak for him. Padley with his 
gentle nod. Padley would speak for him. And Eleanore was 
coming home. Fleetingly, he smiled to himself. 

"Now then," said the interrogator. 

Lambert's hands loosened, and he waited for the question. 

"What is your full name?" 



What English Critics Say About 

A DREAM 
OF TREASON 

'Ingenious, plausible, and fetchingly appointed, 
the whole situation ... [has] ... a lively 
and thoughtful tension. The excitements in 
both the higher and the shadier reaches of 
diplomacy are balanced by a nice appreciation 
of emotionally tangled relationships ... It is 
all done very deftly and intelligently." 

The London Times 
* 

"It is a modern masterpiece." Church Times 



"Maurice Edelman is rapidly becoming recog 
nized as one of the outstanding novelists of the 
day." Yorkshire Evening News 



"Mr. Edelman has a natural gift for crisp, tense 
dialogue. The story is brilliantly told." 

Oxford Mail 


i 

"This book is excellently written, its characteri 
zation is a delight, and its dramatic tension most 
gripping." Glasgow Evening News 



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